PLACIDO A. ZAMBRANO
J.D. 2020, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law; B.A. 2016, University of Miami — Miami, FL.
Americans wagered $158 million legally approximately $4.76 billion on Super Bowl LII at the Nevada sportsbooks. The American Gaming Commission projected that across the United States, individuals wagered $4.76 billion on Super Bowl LII and placed 97 percent of those total bets illegally. This estimate equated to more than $4.6 billion in illegal sports betting. Nationwide, Americans illegally bet between $150 billion and $450 billion on sports every year. When the NBA Finals, the NFL Super Bowl, or the MLB World Series are underway, Indiana residents cannot legally place their bets on the game because in Indiana, placing a bet with a sports bookmaker is punishable as a level six felony. However, Hoosiers across the state still rush to call their illegal sports bookmakers and place their bets on upcoming sporting events.
Betting illegally on sports might soon be a thing of the past for Hoosiers because of the recent Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. NCAA. Indiana residents are excited by the possibility of legal sports betting because now they can place their bets “away from the shadows of secrecy and stigmatization.” Indiana casinos share that excitement; as Matt Bell, the President of the Indiana Casino Association, stated, “the [Murphy] decision creates an opportunity for Indiana to create a regulated and transparent market that allows Hoosiers to legally participate in sports wagering” Amidst the statewide enthusiasm, the Indiana legislature will decide the future of sports betting in the state.
The recent Supreme Court decision in Murphy has some Indiana state legislators celebrating at the prospect of finally being able to regulate the unfamiliar revenue-raising opportunity of sports betting. Experts estimate that within five years, sports betting in Indiana is likely to total bets of $256 million a year, which translates to 2,281 direct and indirect new jobs and $38 million in new state tax revenue annually. As Indiana Senator Ron Alting stated, “We’re taking something that people are doing illegally today[,] and we are capitalizing on it by making it legal and regulating it[.]” In Indiana, legislators in both the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced sports betting bills in the 2018 legislative session before the Murphy decision. However, the 2018 Indiana legislative session closed with no vote on either bill. Indiana legislators estimated that a sports betting bill would be effective no earlier than July 1, 2019. Both Indiana Representative Alan Morrison and Senator Jon Ford stated that they would re-introduce the sports betting bill again in the 2019 legislative session. Currently, legislators are weighing the options for sports betting including where the betting will occur, how to tax and spend the revenue from the newly legal activity, and what sports are appropriate for betting.
This Note argues that Indiana legislators need to pass legislation to legalize sports betting to take advantage of its enormous revenue-raising opportunity. Part I of this Note synopses the history of sports betting, the history of betting in Indiana, and the difference between fantasy sports and sports betting. Part II outlines the Murphy decision and the importance of the Tenth Amendment. Part III of this Note discusses the provisions that Indiana legislators should include in their 2019 Sports Betting Bill (the “Bill”). First, the Bill should include a provision that allows sports betting only at Indiana’s fourteen licensed casinos, and four licensed betting facilities. Second, the Bill should include a provision that allows for online sports betting onsite at the casinos and offsite from casino websites or phone applications. Third, the Bill should include a provision that allows individuals to bet on any professional sports teams, but only collegiate teams that are not from Indiana. Fourth, the Bill should include a provision that allows the Indiana Gaming Commission (“IGC”) to regulate sports betting. Part IV of this Note discusses the taxation framework that Indiana legislators should include in the Bill. First, Indiana needs to charge a $100,000 licensing fee for any of the seventeen betting facilities that want to hold sports betting. Second, Indiana needs to tax the casinos and betting operators 9.75 percent of its sports betting yearly gross revenue from sports betting. Third, Indiana’s taxation framework should not pay an integrity fee from its annual sports betting revenue to the professional leagues. Finally, Part V of this Note explores the implementation considerations that Indiana legislators need to consider before legalizing sports betting. [Read entire Article here].