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Indiana Weathers Big Challenges To Make Small Gains In 2023

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It can be argued that Indiana was the state most impacted by those that launched legal sports betting in 2023.

One of the earliest entrants into the marketplace in September 2019, the Hoosier State has consistently outperformed expectations. Indiana remains in the Top 10 nationally for all-time sports betting handle, thanks to a well-oiled combination of retail books and mobile betting apps, while currently hovering just outside it on a monthly basis.

The respective launches of Ohio and Kentucky in 2023 brought challenges to Indiana’s retail sports betting game. By year’s end, bettors in the two neighboring states had access to their own mobile apps without having to cross state lines — dramatically impacting brick-and-mortar betting in Indiana. While retail wagering was down notably, mobile books picked up the slack to create small revenue gains from 2022.

Say goodbye to Hollywood

Hollywood Lawrenceburg, for a while, had the best of all worlds. Situated within 100 miles of Indianapolis and along the borders of both Ohio and Kentucky, the PENN Entertainment venue was an ideal gathering spot for sports bettors in three states.

In 2021, Hollywood accounted for 45.4% of the overall retail handle in Indiana and 60.8% of retail-based casino handle with $125.7 million worth of accepted wagers. Those percentages dipped to 34% and 45.3%, respectively, in 2022 as Hollywood’s handle shrunk to $116.5 million, statewide retail handle surged 24%, and Hard Rock launched in the northwest part of the state.

The bottom dropped out of Lawrenceburg in 2023. Handle plunged 69.1% to $36 million —  less than the $37.9 million generated in the final quarter of 2022. The impact of Ohio’s Jan. 1 launch was immediate, as quarter-over-quarter handle dropped 46.8% to $20.1 million. Kentucky’s launch dragged on the fourth quarter, as year-over-year handle for those three months plummeted 87.8% to $4.6 million.

A slow start, in which Hollywood paid out $1.3 million above handle the first three months, put the book in catch-up mode. It did not get ahead until September and finished the year with a 1.8% hold and less than $654,000 in revenue — down 95.2% from 2022.

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Statewide, retail handle was down 35.8% year-over-year to $220.3 million. Revenue fell off more sharply at 46.8% to $21.2 million, as the 9.6% hold from in-person venues statewide was nearly two full percentage points lower than 2022.

What kind of gains can ESPN BET make?

The first full month of figures for ESPN BET in Indiana offered plenty of promise. Market share in terms of statewide mobile handle in December rose from 5.5% to 6.8%. The PENN-operated sportsbook’s $33 million ranked fifth out of 12 apps available, but it was only $630,000 shy of a top-three spot in quickly emerging to challenge BetMGM and Caesars.

The first six weeks ESPN BET was live contributed to a 10.4% hold in the final two months of 2023 with $6.3 million in revenue against $60.4 million handle. That win rate was 4.7 percentage points higher than what Barstool Sportsbook — which PENN offloaded in favor of the ESPN-branded book — achieved in the first 10 months of the year on $80.3 million in wagers.

How much ESPN BET’s handle was driven by promotional play is not known, but it is worth noting that its spend in Maryland — a slightly larger market — dropped 55.2% from November to $5.8 million in December.

Cutting into BetMGM and Caesars is one thing, but grabbing share from DraftKings and FanDuel is quite another. The mobile juggernauts accounted for $2.98 billion of the $4.11 billion in statewide mobile handle, as their combined market share climbed from 64.9% in 2022 to 72.3% in 2023. The $300.8 million in winnings between them was almost 77% of all mobile revenue, with FanDuel’s $161 million tops among all operators.

DraftKings made it a tighter two-horse race in 2023, widening its spread for handle from $50.9 million to $150.1 million and reducing FanDuel’s lead in revenue to $27.5 million from $39.1 million. FanDuel, though, continued to be without peer for hold — its was 11.4% in 2023 compared to the 8.5% crafted by DraftKings.

Mobile handle was practically flat compared to 2022, down less than $10 million. Revenue was up 10.3% to $382.8 million, as the 9.3% hold for online bets was almost nine-tenths of a percentage point higher.

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