Indiana casinos open their books as sports betting officially becomes legal

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (WLS) -- Indiana became the latest state to offer legalized sports betting on Sunday.

The Hoosier State is just behind Iowa, but getting a head start on neighboring Illinois, which is still months away from offering it.

Ameristar Casino in East Chicago is the first casino in Indiana to open their books, and the line started forming Sunday at 9 a.m.

"Extremely exciting. We're not only excited to open one of the first sporting books in the state of Indiana, but more importantly in the Chicagoland area," said Matt Schuffert, the casino's vice president and general manager.

Chicago residents who can't wait for Illinois venues to offer sports wagering have at least two nearby choices in northwest Indiana.

The Horseshoe Hammond will open their books Sept. 4.

"I'm glad it came to Indiana. I think it'll be a lot of revenue to the state and I think it'll be a lot of fun," said Michael Smith.

For now, sports bets must be placed within the casinos. In coming months, patrons will simply have to cross the state line to wager via a mobile app.

"This is fun, playing football games. I used to fly to Vegas. Now it's here," said Dex Murati, who's from Deerfield, Illinois.

The Indiana casinos can offer wagering on 19 sports, ranging from basketball and football to bowling and darts.

Ameristar Casino plans to focus on the Chicago teams: the Bears, Bulls, Cubs, White Sox and Blackhawks.

When the Chicago Bears kick off the NFL season against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 5, fans will be able to do something for the first time in the team's storied 100-year history: legally wager on the game in the Chicago area.

On Thursday, Ameristar is hosting Chicago Bears legends Devin Hester and Mike Ditka to participate in the ceremonial first bet in honor of the NFL kickoff.
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