Indiana to Host First Sportsbooks—for Chicagoans
Days ahead of the National Football League's September 5 kickoff, Ameristar Casino East Chicago's (l.) sportsbook will open September 1 and Horseshoe Hammond's will follow September 4. Both expect to lure Chicago metro bettors across the Illinois-Indiana state line
Just in time for the National Football League’s Bears versus Packers September 5 kickoff, Penn National will launch a sportsbook at Ameristar Casino East Chicago on September 1 and Caesars Entertainment will open the Book at Horseshoe Hammond September 4. Both venues expect Chicago bettors to cross state line to Indiana to place their wagers.
At Ameristar Casino East Chicago, about 40 minutes from downtown Chicago, Chief Executive Officer Timothy Wilmott said, “Penn National looks forward to opening a sportsbook and providing our customers with another great amenity at Ameristar Casino East Chicago. Our patrons in Northwest Indiana can expect an incredible sports wagering experience at our facility.”
Wilmott said Chicago Bears legends Mike Ditka and Devin Hester will place the first bets. The property is located just across the Illinois-Indiana border, where new statewide legislation will allow a casino—including sports betting.
Ameristar Casino East Chicago General Manager Matt Schuffert stated, “Our customers are very excited to start wagering on sports. The passion for Indiana and Illinois sports teams runs deep in this region, and we look forward to becoming a destination for fans all year-round.”
Bettors will be able to place wagers at kiosks and at ticket writer stations located in the new sportsbook near the casino’s main entrance, featuring a betting counter, large odds boards and numerous television screens.
Penn National has 41 casinos in 19 states, including 10 jurisdictions with regulated sports betting and more to follow. The company has multi-year sports-betting operations agreements with DraftKings, PointsBet, theScore and the Stars Group. Penn National retail sportsbooks are managed by William Hill US at the company’s casinos and racinos in Nevada, Mississippi and West Virginia.
Caesars Entertainment Regional President and Horseshoe Hammond General Manager Dan Nita said, “We’re ready to welcome Illinois bettors with open arms and give them a world-class experience like we always have. This is a huge opportunity for us and for Indiana. We’ve worked really hard to get this ready, and we’re excited to share it with fans on both sides of the state border who have wanted this for a long time.”
Horseshoe’s new 5,300-square-foot sportsbook, named the Book, will offer six betting counters, lounge chairs, couches and more than a dozen 85-inch LED televisions broadcasting national and international sports.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed the bill in May that legalized sports betting beginning September 1. Bettors will be able to place wagers on college sports, professional sports games and drafts, as well as darts, cricket, rugby, sailing, hockey, boxing, soccer and mixed martial arts. Prop bets will be allowed.
Indiana Gaming Commission Deputy Director Jenny Reske said most if not all Indiana sportsbook operators will launch retail betting first, followed by mobile/online betting.
Elsewhere in Indiana, Penn National officials said Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg also will open a sportsbook on September 1. Two Hall of Fame sports legends, Cincinnati Bengals tackle Anthony Munoz and Cincinnati Reds first baseman Tony Perez, will place the first bets. Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg Assistant General Manager Ryan Coppola said, “This region is a hotbed of both professional sports and college athletics, and we hope to become a destination for fans from Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.”
Caesars Entertainment, which operates Horseshoe Hammond, also expects to open additional sportsbooks at Harrah’s Hoosier Park in Anderson, Horseshoe Southern Indiana in Elizabeth, Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville, plus Winner’s Circle off-track betting locations in Indianapolis, New Haven and Clarksville.
Boyd Gaming officials said it plans to launch sportsbooks at Belterra in Florence and Blue Chip in Michigan City in September. Tropicana Evansville officials also said its sportsbook will open in September.
Other pending sportsbook locations include Tropicana Evansville, the French Lick Casino and the Rising Star Casino Resort in Rising Sun.
Indiana will become the 12th state to operate legal sports betting following the U. S. Supreme Court’s repeal of the federal ban.
Over the Illinois state line, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an expanded gambling bill in June. It doesn’t set a deadline, and regulators currently are working on guidelines and rules. Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said, “We’re following a process, and we’re going through and making sure we have the right approach for the state.”