INDIANAPOLIS - Sports betting will become legal in Indiana and construction of two new casinos will be allowed in the state under a bill signed by the governor on Wednesday.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb endorsed the bill on his final day to act on the measure approved by lawmakers after they reached a deal in the final hours of this year's state legislative session.
So far this year, Indiana joins Montana and Tennessee in moving to legalize sports wagering after six other states moved quickly following a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing it nationwide last year. An Iowa sports betting bill is awaiting a decision by that state's governor and several other states are considering legalization measures.
Indiana sports wagering could start in September. Bets could be placed by anyone 21 or older at a casino or by mobile devices after a bettor has registered at an Indiana casino.
Holcomb said Indiana's casino industry faced greater competition as neighboring states have legalized more forms of gambling.
''By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers,'' Holcomb said in a statement. ''Additionally, it will bring in new revenue and create hundreds of new jobs - both permanent and in construction.''
The Indiana House had voted to permit sports betting only at casino sites as some members argued it would easily allow illegal wagering by minors and set the state up to future attempts for letting traditional casino games like blackjack move online. But Senate sponsors pushed to allow sports wagering through smartphones, arguing that doing otherwise would be an unreasonable limit.
The Indianapolis-based NCAA last week rescinded its policy prohibiting championship events from being held in states that have legalized sports gambling. The ban that previously kept events such as the men's basketball tournament out of Nevada became impractical as legal sports gambling spread to more states.