In an update released on March 19, it’s reported that the State of Michigan, for the fourth consecutive month, broke its record for online casino revenue, bringing in approximately $188M in the month of February – the shortest month of the year. This figure sets a new monthly record by more than $6M, yielding a whopping $33.8M for state coffers and sending $12.9M to local entities. This put the state just $9.8M shy of hitting $5B in revenue total over the span of 38 months of legalized online casino gaming in Michigan. Just 19 days into March, we don’t even need to see the numbers to know that they will have hit that threshold, with half the month remaining.

In less than four years with a legalized, regulated online gaming market, the State of Michigan has added approximately $941M in funds to the state budget and given approximately $357M in funds directly back to local entities as the result of allowing residents, visitors and people passing through to partake in gaming activity that was already legalized in their state. iGaming simply provides a modernized delivery channel – and one that allows those players greater access to responsible gambling information, the ability to easily limit their spending and consumer protections that don’t otherwise exist in the black market.

Because the State of Michigan chose to draw players away from the thriving black market for online casino gaming and into a regulated system, which is licensed in partnership with their existing brick-and-mortar casino network, they have been able to draw unprecedented revenues into their state and local budgets – dollars that no doubt benefit Michiganders. All the while, they’ve drawn players away from a dangerous and predatory black market with no consumer protections for loss of funds, no access to addiction resources, and no effort to promote responsible spending. Illegal, unregulated online gambling also served to draw players away from the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos, which legalized online gaming has shown time after time, study after study, to directly benefit.

In legalizing internet gaming, Michigan has chosen to benefit its citizens, its casino industry, and help bring responsible gaming services and consumer protections to players. Aside from the outdated and shortsighted argument against expanding gaming – an activity that is already legal and operating in the state and, in the case of iGaming, simply being delivered through a modernized channel – I’m at a loss as to why the State of Indiana would not consider each one of these major benefits and see this for what it is: a no-brainer.

At a time when our state will be headed into the 2025 legislative session addressing major fiscal policy matters including a biennial budget; a billion dollar Medicaid shortfall; a demand from Hoosiers for major tax reform efforts; and the likely restructuring of our state’s funding mechanism for roads and infrastructure, wouldn’t it be wise for the legislature to consider an option set to eventually yield hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit Hoosiers and address these serious matters? And all of that is before we even consider the important policy impacts of funding a full-fledged responsible gambling program, which Indiana currently lacks, allowing easier access to resources for players, drawing current players out of a risky black market, and supporting Indiana’s existing gaming industry, which provides Hoosiers with thousands of jobs and attracts visitors and dollars to fourteen of Indiana’s communities.

The bottom line here is this: Indiana is missing out on what is clearly a major revenue-generating opportunity, at a time when Hoosiers could really benefit, and on positive policy shifts that benefit Hoosiers, players, the state, local communities and Indiana’s gaming industry, which continues to give back to the state in numerous ways. It’s time to leave the outdated arguments in the past and modernize an existing industry that thrives in a highly regulated environment in the State of Indiana. By making the move to offer a modernized delivery channel for an activity already legalized and operating within our state, the legislature could benefit all Hoosiers.

Ali Bartlett is a principal at Bose Public Affairs Group and a partner in the Gaming and Election Law Groups at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP. In her roles with the firm, she assists clients in policy, regulatory compliance, and licensing matters within the casino gaming and state lottery industries. Ali also has years of experience advocating on charter school issues at the state legislature on behalf of clients ranging from K-12 charter schools to adult charter high schools.  She also is adept in legislative lobbying, municipal law, government procurement and general government regulatory work and administrative law. Ali is a member of International Masters of Gaming Law.

Bose Public Affairs Group is a fully integrated public affairs firm dedicated to successfully navigating clients through the many pathways of political, legislative, regulatory, communications and media environments.