Football fans flock to Indiana casinos for sports betting ahead of NFL season

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (WLS) -- Chicago Bears legends including Mike Ditka, Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester helped kick off legalized sports betting at Indiana casinos ahead of the NFL season.

An event was held at Ameristar Casino in East Chicago on Thursday, as Boyd Gaming opened its sports book at its Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa in Michigan City.

Many placed their bets just in time for the Bears-Packers game.

"Opening night, the 100th year of the NFL, the oldest rivalry in football, so if you're not going to get excited for this one, I don't know what you're going to get excited for," said T.R. Harlan, a Chicago Bears fan.

RELATED: Indiana casinos open their books as sports betting officially becomes legal

Indiana became the latest state to offer legalized sports betting last Sunday.

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

"We see more and more every day of our guests from Chicago because they see us as a resort because we have full services and now we are able to offer sport betting," said Brenda Temple, Blue Chip's vice president and general manager.

The casino's newest sports book is managed by sports entertainment company Fan Duel and offers betting at five windows and 22 TVs, along with wagering on anything from professional football to boxing to cricket.

"In Chicago, it's just sports fans in this area are really, really dedicated and to bring legal sports betting into the equation is massive," said Keith Wall, vice president of Fan Duel.

While some anti-gambling activists fear that legalized sports betting and a planned phone app will hook new gamblers, some sports fans believe it will only enhance the experience of rooting for your favorite teams.

"I've been to casinos before, but I'm definitely here for the sports book. It definitely hits home," said Tyler Stanton, a Green Bay Packers fan.
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