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The Journal Gazette

Friday, August 10, 2018 12:00 pm

Indiana to get outside report on sports wagering

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Gaming Commission has hired a firm with gaming expertise to study sports wagering as state policymakers consider legalizing the activity in the state.

"We're regulators and we view our role as being able to provide education," said Sara Gonso Tait, executive director of the commission. "We wanted to produce a neutral report that could aid decisionmakers."

The commission completed a $75,000 contract with Eilers & Krejcik Gaming in July to "consult and assist the state in regards to various issues and matters related to sports wagering, including, but not limited to, market analysis, demographic analysis, fiscal analysis, costs, revenue forecast, revenue impacts, and policy considerations."

Sports betting is a topic for legislators on a summer study committee and Tait hopes the report will be ready in the next few months to assist in deliberations.

No meetings have been scheduled. Ultimately lawmakers will decide in the 2019 session starting in January.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way earlier this year when it struck down a federal law that banned commercial sports betting in all but four states. Under that law, Nevada was the only state allowed to take single-game sports bets.

Delaware quickly started offering full-scale sports betting, becoming the first state to take advantage of the decision. West Virginia is set to start sports betting at the state's five casinos starting in September.

One recent study estimates between $150 billion and $450 billion in illegal wagers a year on sports nationwide.

A big part of the debate will be how to structure the gambling – with options including lotteries, casinos, horse tracks and commercial books. Other issues including any limitations on sports betting and whether professional leagues will get a cut.

Eilers and Krejcik labels itself a boutique research firm focused on servicing the gaming equipment, technology and interactive gaming sectors within the global gaming industry. It provides market research, company research and consulting services.

Tait said the company conducted a study for West Virginia that Indiana's own analysis is being modeled after. The Gaming Commission approached the company directly and no bids were taken.

The West Virginia state lottery paid $160,000 for its study, according to news reports.

The company found if tax rates are too high the industry won't draw players away from black-market betting, and recommended the ideal tax rate being between 10 percent and 15 percent.

"We want decisionmakers to have independent information to base things on," Tait said.