Indiana betting handle abysmal in Coronavirus-plagued March

University of Dayton, March 2020 (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
University of Dayton (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
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With the NBA’s decision on March 11 to postpone its season, followed the next day by the NCAA cancelling March Madness and then the temporary shutdown of virtually all sports, betting handle at Indiana sportsbooks fell sharply last month.

Per a report released this week by the Indiana Gaming Commission, bettors placed $74.8 million in wagers at the state’s books in March, a 60% drop from February’s handle of $187.2 million.

March Madness would have driven substantial wagering in college basketball-crazy Indiana. In fact, handle for the month would have surpassed $200 million, Legal Sports Report estimates, which would have set a state record.

Books held $5.5 million, or 7.4% of the total amount wagered in March, the rest returned for winning bets.

While the nation’s mitigation efforts during the Coronavirus pandemic have included the closures of casinos across the country, $60.8 million in mobile or online wagers were placed in Indiana in March, the 81.3% of overall handle marking an all-time high for the state.

Credit Indiana gaming regulators for allowing sportsbook operators to remain aggressive in the absence of traditional sports. The IGC expanded the list of sports on which books can accept bets, although the seasons of many of those sports have since either been halted or have concluded.

There’s really no positive spin to put on this. Sports betting is one of many industries that has gotten pummeled by the cessation of the economy. The month of April, for Indiana and everywhere else, doesn’t bring a lot of hope for robust handle numbers, although there figures to be increased interest from bettors in next week’s NFL Draft.

Indiana betting handle and hold results by month

MonthHandleHoldHold%MobileMobile %
Sept ’19$35.2 $8.6 24.4%$0.0 0.0%
Oct ’19$91.7 $11.5 12.5%$48.0 52.3%
Nov ’19$147.3 $9.3 6.3%$96.2 65.3%
Dec ’19$161.8 $12.0 7.4%$110.6 68.4%
Jan ’20$170.8 $12.9 7.6%$123.3 72.2%
Feb ’20$187.2 $11.1 5.9%$145.9 77.9%
Mar ’20$74.8 $5.50 7.4%$60.8 81.3%

In millions of dollars

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