The sportsbook opening at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond this week has been met with mixed feelings from the locals.
Indiana officials held the ribbon-cutting on Wednesday to celebrate the legalization of sports betting, which will end the need for Chicagoans to travel to Las Vegas to place a sporting bet.
It was organized just in time for the Bears-Packers game on Thursday, the start of the 100th season of the National Football League.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb officially signed the new law allowing 13 brick-and-mortar casinos to apply for licenses in May of this year.
The state is set to collect 15% of the proceeds from sports betting to put towards ‘capital improvements’.
However, despite promising to bring in new tax revenues and jobs, gambling critics aren’t convinced it was the right choice for the area.
Critic Anita Bedell told WGN-TV: “The younger people, they don’t like slot machines but they do like sports.
“Young men who do not go to casinos will be attracted because of the sports element.”
It is feared that the introduction of sports betting will bring a new crowd of unlikely gamblers onto the scene who may find it harmful and addicting.
The new venue will allow for betting across all 19 professional sports, including pro golf, boxing, the NBA, NFL, and even cricket.
Hammond Horshoe’s parent company Caesars Entertainment will be putting their chips on the new book.
Caesars has said that since the launch of sports betting in the state, it has already taken more bets on the Bears’ season opener than in its Nevada locations, where wagers have been accepted since April.
The change in sports betting rules comes at a time when the company has given up on building a casino in Japan.
Mayor Tom McDermott was the first to place a bet, wagering $100 that the Bears will win the Superbowl.
Former Chicago Bear Matt Forte was also there to celebrate the legalization of sports betting, alongside an avid group of Bears superfans.
Across the nation, sports betting on the black market is estimated to bring in around $150 billion annually.
Thanks to the change in the law, 12 casinos in the state and three off-track online sites will soon be given the opportunity to offer sports betting in Indiana.
This will mean that at least some of the black market money will start to flow into the state legally, meaning it can be taxed.
Indiana has beaten Illinois in the race to secure sports gambling to ensure it gets the first crack at the Chicago market, this kind of gambling is already underway in Iowa.
The Illinois Gambling Commission is still nailing down the rules of a trial period which will allow the public to try the service and make comments on it within 30 days.
It has not specified any dates to have license application procedures in place and may have to wait as late as Super Bowl Sunday to get its sports betting scheme fully legalized and underway.
Gaming board administrator Marcus Fruchter said his regulators ‘aren’t rushing into anything’.
While you wait for sports betting to be legalized in the state, here are 10 other casinos you should definitely visit in the meantime.
Horseshoe Hammond is just a 25-minute drive from Soldier Field.