You buy tickets to see a sports event with your friends, and once you arrive at the game you open up your mobile sports betting app and find out that you can’t bet on the game from your seats.
You turn to your friend and ask, “Why didn’t we just watch this game at a bar?”
That could be the situation if a sports governing body persuades the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) that allowing wagering from the location of a particular sports event is risky.
Under proposed sports betting regulations released this week by the IGC, a professional sports league or the NCAA, which is headquartered in the state in Indianapolis, could seek to create a temporary sports betting “dead zone” at a venue, made possible by geolocation technology. Wagering on Indiana collegiate athletic teams is allowed under the new law.
While Indiana lawmakers didn’t give the leagues any handouts in the form of “integrity fees” (also known as “royalties”), nor did they mandate the use of “official league data,” the regulations do appear to give the leagues one unique way here to influence sports betting in the state.
Geofencing a specific sports event
The regulations, which are currently in the public comment phase ahead of possible adoption next month, would give the IGC the sole discretion on whether or not to grant the sports governing body’s request.
The IGC will “consider” the request only if its receives:
- Information indicating a specific and credible threat to the integrity of sports wagering at the particular location that is beyond the control of the sports governing body to preemptively remedy or mitigate.
- Confirmation from a geofence service provider licensed by the commission establishing that utilization of a geofence to prohibit wagers at the location of the particular sporting event has been executed.
- An evaluation that no other means exist to remedy or mitigate the specific risk to sports wagering at the location and that geofencing is the only appropriate measure to address the issue.
The IGC won’t simply take the sports governing body’s word for it. Regulators will consult with an “independent monitoring provider” and other jurisdictions that have experience with sports betting.
As the IGC stated in the draft regs, the threat needs to be “credible.” Of course, the meaning of that word is in the eye of the beholder, so regulators have the ultimate discretion. Meanwhile, offshore betting websites operating illegally would not be subjected to this kind of restriction.
The Indiana sports betting law didn’t spell out a scenario where “risk” might arise, but the provisions in the law were loose enough to give the IGC authority to create specific rules pertaining to what sports governing bodies can do to have some input.
Next steps for Indiana
Industry stakeholders and the public can submit comments on the proposed regs overseeing both brick-and-mortar and online/mobile books by Aug. 1. Regulators will then finalize and adopt the regs.
The plan is to have brick-and-mortar betting available by Week 1 of the upcoming NFL season. Under the Indiana sports betting law, casinos licensed for retail sports betting can kick things off in September. The NFL regular season is slated to start on Sept. 5.
“A person holding a certificate of authority issued under this chapter is authorized to conduct sports wagering under this article beginning September 1, 2019,” reads a provision in the law.
The IGC draft regs don’t say anything about that launch date.
Online/mobile sportsbooks will need to be thoroughly tested under the IGC regs. That will likely take several months after the opening of b&m books, which also require state testing. You can expect Indiana to have online/mobile up and running in the first half of 2020. Indiana will allow remote online registration.
With that said, sports betting regulation is becoming increasingly common in the country, with regulators relying on help and guidance from other state regulators. It would be surprising if one or more Indiana online/mobile platforms launched by the end of 2019, but it’s certainly not impossible.