Niki Kelly: Online gaming is the next frontier for Indiana
My husband is addicted to this slot-machine game on his phone. Every day he makes sure to retrieve his bonuses and build the fake stack of coins, even though his wins have no real consequences. Can you imagine if it was real gambling? That might be where Indiana is headed.
The Indiana Gaming Commission hired Spectrum Gaming Group in February to conduct a market analysis on internet casino gambling in Indiana, also known as iGaming.
Seven states have iGaming and some feel it’s the next gambling frontier for Indiana. The Hoosier Lottery very nearly went there before legislators stepped in last year. They inserted language in law saying the General Assembly has to explicitly authorize such a venture.
Depending on the level of taxation applied, the state could reap between $341 million and $943 million in taxes off iGaming over three years, the study projected.
The analysis also considered whether iGaming would hurt the Hoosier Lottery. I can’t imagine legislators granting the state’s casinos this online model without also giving it to the state’s oldest gambling venture – the lottery.
The study found that of the six states that have both iGaming and lottery, three have enough history to allow for the analysis of the trends and potential impacts of iGaming on lottery revenue. None of the states’ lottery results appear to have been impacted.
“Spectrum foresees little impact on the Hoosier Lottery from the potential introduction of iGaming. In the five years from 2016 to 2021, the compound annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of Hoosier Lottery sales was 7.55%. While this is strong growth, Spectrum does not see a reason for the growth rate to be impacted by iGaming,” the study concluded.
The study did not, however, analyze how much the lottery could gain from such a proposition. The Hoosier Lottery Commission sought its own analysis in 2019 but has refused to release it. Earlier this year it became known that the Hoosier Lottery was working on a contract amendment with its private vendor to add online games. The lottery appeared to have the authority to do so on its own.
But when word broke and legislators started realizing how the online slot-machine games would work, members blocked it to fully vet the idea.
Both the Hoosier Lottery and the state’s casinos — who want the online gaming rights to flow through their current licenses — are interested in moving forward, ramping up the pressure on legislators to act in 2023. Bills have been filed before but didn’t receive hearings.
Overall, the analysis found that Indiana’s move into online sports betting has set the table well for more online gambling. And that iGaming won’t cannibalize either existing casinos or the lottery. That’s because they are different customers, both in age and gender.
Some legislators regularly vote against any gaming expansion as a matter of morality. But fewer take this approach each year as gambling has pretty much spread to every facet it can.
Luckily for me and my husband, I can’t think of a way they can monetize my iPhone coloring addiction. But if the lottery launches an online Goldfish Deluxe — my favorite slot machine in Vegas — all bets are off.
Niki Kelly is editor-in-chief of indianacapitalchronicle.com, where this commentary first appeared. She has covered Indiana politics and the Indiana Statehouse since 1999 for publications including the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Send comments to