ELIZABETH, Ind. – Jimmy Allen felt like he was given the keys to a Cadillac last week when Caesars Southern Indiana opened its $90 million land-based casino. As manager of the casino’s sportsbook, he just so happens to oversee one of its highest-profile amenities.
Sports betting has generated a lot of attention since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA last year. Despite that buzz, casino operators do not consider sportsbooks large moneymakers. For perspective, Indiana’s 17 sportsbooks and mobile betting applications combined to handle $147.3 million in bets in November. That’s just $10 million more than what the riverboat known as Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Caesars Southern Indiana’s predecessor, handled in slot machine traffic that same month.
The sportsbooks combined for taxable revenues of nearly $9.3 million. Horseshoe Southern Indiana alone won $12.8 million off its slots.
However, the growth of sports betting comes at a time when casino operators are working to attract new customers. And The Book
While it has three rows of cushioned lounge chair seats and 30 large screen televisions, it also offers what the casino calls “fan caves.” Stationed near the giant television wall, the three “caves” offer private seating with food and drink service for private parties. Those parties also get access to their own television, which includes an Xbox gaming system.
It’s one of several attractions spread across the 110,000-square-foot, single-floor casino, along with bars, retail shops, and restaurants.
“I think that with this facility, a customer could come here, spend an evening, and never make a wager on a slot machine or a table game and have an enjoyable evening,” Caesars Entertainment CEO Tony Rodio said at the casino’.
Want to be in the front row? These couches at The Book are available for private parties and can include an XBox. pic.twitter.com/IOzWwl1H3t
— Steve Bittenbender (@CasinoOrgSteveB) December 12, 2019
Vegas Style in Indiana
The Book looks to cater to a variety of customers. The chairs and the big screens and the tickers showing odds and scores provide, as Caesars Southern Indiana General Manager Brad Siegel told Casino.org, a Vegas-style environment.
The sportsbook will use the screens to broadcast multiple games of events available for betting, such as football or basketball.
During the sportsbook’s regular hours, bettors can make their wager at one of four desks on the counter. Self-service kiosks also will be available in the near future, perhaps as early as this week, Allen said.
I think that guests will find that they can make their bets and hang out in the sportsbook,” Siegel said. “It’s a great, just a lively environment. I think people will be coming out Saturday and Sunday to spend the day with us.”
But Caesars doesn’t want to overwhelm or intimidate those new to sports betting either. Throughout The Book, there is information available to help those fledgling gamblers understand sports betting. Allen said the ticket writers received training to help people when placing their bets.
Getting Their Legs Under Them
While the new land-based casino was under construction, Caesars officials went ahead and opened a temporary sportsbook on the Horseshoe riverboat shortly after sports betting became legal in Indiana. Despite its small size and lack of amenities, casino officials still celebrated its opening in a big way. They had NFL legend Paul Hornung, a native of nearby Louisville, place the first bet on Sept. 12.
But due to its small confines, there was no way to watch a game in a true sportsbook environment. As a result, many sports bettors stayed away. Some opted to go to the Caesars-branded off-track betting parlor right off the interstate highway in nearby Clarksville. More opted to take advantage of the mobile applications that launched in October.
Through the first 11 weeks, the sportsbook only managed to generate a handle of $3.7 million. That put it near the bottom of the state’s retail sportsbooks, but Caesars officials knew the start would be slow. Allen said it gave them a chance to get their legs underneath them in preparing for the land-based launch.
In the new casino, Allen told Casino.org they expect to potentially triple what they did on the boat.
“I think once everybody sees it, what we have to offer, and we get everybody comfortable coming over here, I’m thinking that we can do $3 million to $4 million a month in handle,” he said.