Is Online Gambling Legal in Indiana? IN Gambling Laws

Arsenii Anderson
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Legal Gambling in Indiana

Online gambling is experiencing a rise in popularity in the United States. However, not all states have the same rules and regulations regarding online casinos and sportsbooks. Some federal laws regulate online gambling, but state governing bodies can choose whether to legalize it.

Indiana is one of the states where gambling is legal, but what about online casinos and sportsbooks? We look at what laws there are surrounding gambling in Indiana. We also consider the legal definition of gambling laws in Indiana. Lastly, we examine if you can play at casinos and what types of gambling are available.

It’s important to note that while some Indiana gambling is legal, not all gambling activities are legal. Gambling boats in Indiana are legal. Many casinos were established on the Ohio River, Lake Michigan, and Patoka Lake riverboats. That doesn’t mean that no brick-and-mortar casinos are available. You’ll find establishments like French Lick and Gary Casinos.

However, the Indiana gambling laws have relaxed since. It allows many casino boats in Indiana to moor and move onto dry land. Two horse racing tracks are in the state. Including these tracks, there are now 15 land-based casinos in this Hoosier state.

However, is online gambling legal in Indiana? The short answer is no, though it’s not a black-and-white situation. Online sports betting is available, as it is in most states, but online casinos are still illegal. With this, we mean that no operator can establish an online casino within the borders of Indiana.

There is another option, though. US players can use sweepstake casinos, also known as social casinos, like Chumba Casino. Social casinos offer similar online games to real money ones, but you don’t gamble real money. Instead, it’s more like a mobile app game where you can buy virtual currency to gamble. While you can’t win real money from the games you play, you earn sweep coins.

Sweep coins are used to play in sweepstake games and tournaments, in which you can win a cash prize. While not a boat casino in Indiana, it’s an option Indiana players can consider to get the online casino-like experience, legally.

The same is said for poker rooms, as no real money poker room is allowed in the state, but you can play at a sweepstake poker room like Global Poker. For other types of gambling, the state’s governing bodies allow in-person lotteries.

They also allow online horse racing betting on regulated sportsbooks and so on. However, these establishments must be Indiana Gaming Commission-regulated ones.

Legal Definitions of Gambling in Indiana

We examine some legal definitions to understand what’s illegal and allowed in the state besides casino boats in Indiana. The most important ones to consider are the legal definitions of gambling and gambling devices.

“Gambling” means risking money or other property for gain, contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, or the operation of a gambling device. If one of these elements of the gambling definition is removed, then the activity is legal.

What is the definition of gambling? Indiana Gaming Commission

There are three factors the gambling definition is contingent upon. To better understand it, you have to know what a device you gamble on is. Consider the definition of the physical and electrical devices.

A gambling device is any mechanism in which: money can be credited, in return for consideration; when operated for consideration does not return the same value or property for the game consideration; anything used in connection with professional gambling; a policy ticket or wheel; and any part designed for use in connection with a gambling device. Examples include: pull-tabs, cards, dice, roulette wheels, or mechanical slot machines.

What is a gambling device? Indiana Gaming Commission

An electronic gambling device meets one of these four requirements: (1) a slot machine or variation of a slot machine; (2) a matchup or lineup game; (3) a video game machine operated for consideration; or (4) a gadget or device used by a player for an opportunity to obtain money or other items of value based on chance. Examples: electronic slot machines, Cherry Masters, or anything with a random number generator.

What is an electronic gambling device? Indiana Gaming Commission

Even if you use your phone or desktop to play, if the game uses RNG software to decide wins and losses, it counts as a device to gamble with.

The legal definition further expands that games like poker are still defined as games of chance, not skill, and are illegal. These definitions include all forms of gambling. It’s why offering these games is illegal if you don’t have an Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) license.

Yes. The illegal gambling statute specifically provides that “a card game or an electronic version of a card game is a game of chance and may not be considered a bona fide contest of skill.” See IC 35-45-5-1(l). Thus, games like poker and euchre are considered gambling if played for money.

Are card games, such as poker, games of chance? Indiana Gaming Commission

Indiana Gambling Regulatory Bodies and Documents

Indiana online gambling is illegal for the most part. However, understanding the statutes which govern helps ensure you know what’s legal. We consider the main statutory documents of the Indiana Codes governing this market and the regulating bodies.

  • The code on Riverboat Gaming Statute states that these boats are allowed for the benefit of tourism and the state’s economy. However, these casinos must use a cashless wagering system, where your money is converted to chips or coins only usable in that casino;
  • The Charity Gaming Statute allows qualified organizations to arrange a gambling fundraiser. If the commission approves, it can use bingo, raffles, festivals, and casino game nights. The Gambling Games at Racetracks document states that racetracks can provide select casino games. All these are contingent on the commission approving it;
  • Other statutes also regulate the governing bodies, fantasy sport statute, and sports wagering. It states that paid fantasy sports aren’t traditional gambling. It also allows any shipment of devices for sports betting that the IGC regulates;
  • The IGC regulates charitable gaming, land-based casinos, and any gambling boat in Indiana. Meanwhile, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians regulates tribal gaming. Each has specific bodies overseeing the establishments.

Considering this question, the basic answer is no, it’s not. The IGC prohibits any form of online gambling regarding casinos. However, online sports betting is legal with regulated sites, such as BetMGM and Fanduel.

While online casinos aren’t legal, a recent study in 2022 shows that the state might be moving towards legalized online gambling. This study examined the six states where web-based casinos are legal and considered the impact on the population. It also considered how it might work in this state.

This research paper concluded that Indiana was in the perfect position to integrate this form of gambling into its laws, with minimum negative results. However, it hasn’t happened as of yet, and online casinos in the state are still illegal.

As we mentioned earlier, the only online casino Indiana allows is sweepstake casinos. That’s because it’s not classified as players that gamble on the platform. To gamble, you must spend money on something with the chance of receiving returns while using a gambling device. With sweepstakes, you spend money, but as it’s used to buy a virtual currency that won’t give returns, it’s outside this definition of online gambling.

Legal Gambling Age in Indiana

The legal age of gambling in Indiana differs depending on your activity and the establishment you’re visiting. We consider the various Indiana gambling age requirements and why it’s that age. Firstly, for bingo and lottery, it’s 18 years. This is because many charity events use these games to raise funds for their cause and also because it’s a more accepted form of gambling.

Regarding daily fantasy sports games, horse races, or pari-mutuel betting, the minimum gambling age in Indiana is also 18. Horse racing is generally only available at racetracks, though some regulated online sportsbooks also offer it, where the registering player must be 21.

Besides these categories, gambling at casinos and sports betting bars are all activities that require a minimum age of 21. The main reason for this jump in age is the alcohol served at establishments like these. Since the minimum age to drink alcohol is 21, establishments that serve mainly alcoholic drinks, like clubs, bars, and land-based and riverboat casinos, can’t allow people under that age on the premises.

The same age limit (21) counts for online sportsbooks. While not associated with alcohol, it must follow the same rules and regulations as land-based sports betting bars.

Responsible Gambling in Indiana

Responsible gambling is essential, whether playing on a gambling boat in Indiana or betting at an online sportsbook. No matter how you participate in these activities, you must control your habits to avoid pathological gambling. The state of Indiana has a council on problem gambling and an internet self-restriction program on the IGC website.

The Indiana Council on Problem Gambling explains the symptoms and dangers of problem gambling and gives you ways to look for help recovering from it. If you’re subscribed to online sports betting platforms and experience problem gambling, then you can use the self-restriction program, which will exclude you from any IGC-licensed sports betting platform.

Establishments offering these games are also responsible for educating their players and employees on the symptoms and dangers of pathological gaming habits. This education includes giving responsible gaming tools on websites and making flyers available at land-based establishments.

Ultimately, whether you visit a boat casino in Indiana or use your device to bet on sports from home, the operator or sportsbook should support you to the best of their ability. However, it’s also on you to monitor your gaming habit.

Legal Gambling Timeline in Indiana

There have been many highlight years regarding land-based gambling, more so than online gambling Indiana laws. Below, we look at some of the most critical years in this state’s history of gambling.

1993

Indiana legislature saw the success of riverboat casinos in Illinois and approved 11 ones in the state. However, the 11th casino has yet to open, as Patoka Lake was under the management of the Army Corp of Engineers, who stopped the launch of this boat casino.

2003

The 11th commercial casino was finally approved to open in a historic hotel district, which is the French Lick Resort Casino today.

2007

New laws now allow racetracks to provide slot machines on the premises, which was later revised to include table games, starting the so-called racinos.

2018

The first tribal casino in Indiana opens, with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi at its help, in South Bend, and could only offer electronic bingo machines.

2019

Sports betting becomes legal, with retail online sportsbooks in Indiana going live later that year.

2021

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and the State of Indiana entered into a gaming compact, which allows the tribal casino in South Bend to offer all the possible casino games.

FAQ

What forms of online gambling in Indiana are legal?

Currently, only Daily Fantasy Sports and sportsbetting sites are legally available online, as online casinos are still prohibited. So you can bet on your favorite sports at sites like BetMGM, FanDuel, and more, but you can’t play online slots legally.

Can I bet on horse racing using an online sportsbook?

Yes, various regulated online sportsbooks offer you the best horse racing odds. These sites include websites and mobile sports betting apps from brands like FanDuel, AmWager Indiana, and more. However, you can also wager at the state’s two racetracks in person.

Will online gambling in Indiana become legal?

There’s no real answer to this at the time, though we can say that it won’t become legal in 2023, as the proposed bill was thrown out after it failed to advance by the deadline. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t ever become legal, as the state is moving in that direction and is supposedly ready for the change.

Can I gamble using an offshore online casino?

While you can technically game using an offshore casino, it’s not as safe, and we don’t recommend it. Offshore casinos are a gray area, and it’s difficult to say you’re breaking the law by using it, but it’s also not entirely legal.

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