A smart bettor would play the odds that the Indiana Legislature will legalize gambling on sports next year.
That will be possible thanks to a recent Supreme Court ruling that said the federal government can’t stop states from allowing sports wagering — a privilege that until now was reserved for Nevada.
The question will not be all that simple for Indiana, however. Legislators have much to decide beyond a mere “yes” or “no.”
As a philosophical question, Indiana said “yes” to gambling 30 years ago, when we set up a state lottery and started down a path that led to casinos and horse tracks.
Indiana held a competitive edge in gambling for several years, until neighboring states and Native American tribes decided they should get in on the action.
With more competition, Hoosier tax revenue from gambling has stagnated, so sports betting should give it a temporary boost.
Statistics say Americans are placing up to $150 million in illegal bets on sports every year. When sports gambling comes out of the shadows, it’s likely to grow even larger.
States figure they might as well get their cut of that money. But if the state slaps a tax on sports betting, poker indonesia how big should that cut be?
Actually, two bills to legalize sports gambling were tried in the Indiana General Assembly last winter. The authors wanted to have a law ready to go if the Supreme Court approved sports betting.
Those bills went nowhere, but they gave us some idea of how legislators are thinking. Both of them proposed a state tax of 9.25 percent on sports betting. That’s higher than Nevada’s 6.75 percent, but lower than some other states have proposed.
Pro sports leagues want a cut of the action, too. One of last winter’s two bills in Indiana played along. It called for pro football, basketball, baseball and hockey to receive 1 percent of the money wagered on their games in Indiana.
The pro leagues say they would use the 1 percent tax for “integrity programs,” presumably to prevent gambling from influencing the outcome of games.
Casino interests cried foul. They said giving 1 percent to pro sports would cut casino profits on sports betting by 20 percent.
Legislators will have to decide which “needy” group — pro sports teams or casino operators — is more deserving of that 1 percent.
Another question will be whether a gambler should have to go to a casino in person to place a bet on sports. Some states are likely to permit bettering over the internet.
Indiana casino interests say they don’t expect to make a pile of money on sports betting. They say any boost would come from more people visiting casinos and spending money on everything else. With that logic, Indiana might be ahead to skip the smartphone betting.