Indiana, Home of the NCAA, Takes on Sports Betting

By: Dylan Thompson*

February 5, 2018

Most were surprised when the Supreme Court agreed to hear Christie v. NCAA, but when oral arguments started in early December 2017, the real possibility of legalized sports betting nationwide attracted the interest of some state governments. While the Court’s decision is not expected until June, interested states have already drafted legislation intending to take advantage of legalized sports betting as soon as possible.

Indiana is one of those states and on January 5th, the Indiana Senate introduced bill S-405, with a similar bill in the House expected to follow soon.[1] The bill gives the Indiana Gaming Commission the ability to legalize sports betting at riverboats, “racinos”, and satellite facilities, only after they have decided that any relevant federal prohibitions on sports betting no longer apply.[2] In other words, assuming the Supreme Court says sports gambling is legal in every state, this bill would allow Indiana to quickly take advantage of the newly created market.

In addition to simply giving the Indiana Gaming Commission the ability to implement sports betting in Indiana, the bill requires the Commission to create policies and procedures no later than 90 days after the potential legalization of gambling.[3] Additionally, the bill would create a 9.25% tax on revenue plus a flat $75,000 tax every year, for any establishment looking to host any sports betting.[4]

 Interestingly, betting on NCAA events is not barred by the bill, which is completely opposed to the position of the Indianapolis based NCAA.[5] The NCAA has remained firmly against legalized sports betting in NCAA events, and how the organization will react if the Supreme Court does legalize sports betting could ultimately affect Indiana’s position. [6]

 The drafters of the Indiana Senate bill have also stressed the importance of mobile gambling being included as a part of it. Technology exists such that Indiana can use the borders of the state as barriers that allow gambling apps to process bets within the state, but not in the surrounding states.[7] The Indiana Senator responsible for the bill explained that any bill without the addition of mobile gambling would be instantly outdated because of the prevalence of mobile sports betting that already exists.[8]

Indiana’s plan still has to be passed in both houses, and more importantly no one knows what the Supreme Court will even say about sports gambling in the Christie decision. There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding why the Supreme Court even decided to hear the case, and the Constitutionality of the law prohibiting sports gambling outside of Nevada may not even come into question in the case.

On the other hand, some states, specifically Mississippi, now appear to have back-tracked from initial signs of supporting legalized sports betting.[9] Legislators in Mississippi have introduced a new bill that would ban all forms of sports betting besides fantasy sports.[10] This is especially strange because only last year Mississippi had passed a law that took out language prohibiting sports gambling, seemingly opening the door for future legalization.[11]

Regardless of why the Supreme Court originally agreed to hear Christie v. NCAA, the mere possibility of legalized sports betting has triggered a wide range of reactions across the country and when a decision is finally announced, sports gambling could be forever changed. 

 

*Staff Writer, Villanova University Sports Law Society Blog; J.D. Candidate, May 2020, Villanova University School of Law.

[1] Dustin Gouker, Lawmaker On New Indiana Sports Betting Bill: ‘Extremely Shortsighted’ If Online Wagering Not In Final Law, Legal Sports Report (Jan 5, 2018), https://www.legalsportsreport.com/17380/indiana-sports-betting-online-wagering/.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Dustin Gouker, New Mississippi Sports Betting Bill Would Ban — Yes Ban — Wagering, Legal Sports Report (Jan 17, 2018), https://www.legalsportsreport.com/17801/mississippi-sports-betting-ban/.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.