The State of Indiana had legalized sports wagering in November of the prior year, and it was soon after that the Indianapolis Sports Authority was founded to help promote gambling at the Indianapolis Coliseum. Up until that point, the State of Indiana had banned all forms of sports betting, with the exception of college football and horse racing, which was heavily regulated.
In 1972, the State of Indiana passed a fair game sport wagering law, which enabled legal sports betting in the state. This law was modeled on the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s (PLCB) new joint venture with the Atlantic Sports Futures, which enabled sports bettors to place wagers on hundreds of events, including NHL hockey, NFL football, college basketball, and major league baseball. The State of Indiana also legalized pari-mutuel wagering, which enabled participants to win money on horse races and dog fights. However, the law still banned television wagering and sportsbooks in the midwest.
In 1973, the State of Indiana passed a horse race wagering law, which liquor control boards from New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin cited as an excellent model for their own states. This was followed by the 1972 law being rolled back in July of that year.
In 1974, the State of Indiana passed a commissioner wagering law, which permitted sports betting in the state if a state-licensed official was present at all times during a game. This legislation was part of an attempt to bring gambling into the mainstream in the Midwest. The law also included a ban on fixed odds sports betting, or “tote” betting, which restricted sportsbooks from setting and taking side bets on individual games. This new law was widely viewed as a success, and similar legislation was soon passed in Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana following on the backs of big wins in the Harlem Racetrack in New York City.
In 1975, the State of Indiana passed a bingo wagering law, which enabled individuals to bet on bingo games through horse racetracks, casinos, and sports books in the state. Additionally, a dog fighting wagering law was also enacted at this time. This law was a direct response to the crack bingo epidemic, which had spread across Indiana as well as other parts of the country, particularly New York, and was widely viewed as a step in the right direction. However, the State of Indiana had still not legalized all forms of sports betting at this point, and it would not be until the following year, in 1976, that the State of Indiana fully legalized sports betting.
In 1976, the State of Indiana passed a sports betting law, which was amended in 1978 to include not only sports betting but also a commissioner wagering law. This legislation was widely viewed as opening up the doors to professional and casual sports betting for the first time in the State of Indiana. The legislation also included a ban on fixed odds sports betting, or “spreadsheet” betting, which restricted bookmakers from setting and taking side bets on individual games. While not considered to be an absolute ban on sports betting, this rule was widely viewed as a stepping stone towards eradicating fixed odds gambling from the sport.
The legalization of sports betting in 2016 was a long time in the making and was the result of a combined effort by the NCA, the NJCU, and the State of Indiana. In July of that year, the State of Indiana passed a law that permitted Indiananians to bet on sports through a state regulated lottery. The following month, in August, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) passed a federal law that permitted students to bet on sports with accounts at racing books or pari-mutuel winners’ wagering places. This law has since been attacked by legal challenges, but as of the time of publishing, there is still no federal law that would legalize sports betting.
In 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a federal law that forbade states from legalizing or regulating online gambling. In a 5-4 decision Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “To be clear, we have no doubt that the States may continue to regulate online gambling and protect their citizens from undue risk. It is also
evident that the States may regulate or ban sports betting, as they see fit.”
While the Court’s decision does not in any way preclude states from legalizing sports betting, it is a clear statement of the top court’s view of the matter. Additionally, the decision bans states from enacting laws that would regulate the growth of online gambling facilities in their jurisdictions.