MICHIGAN CITY – Before the NFL season opens next Thursday with the Packers visiting the Bears, people wanting to bet on the game can do so right here in town – legally.

Blue Chip Casino Resort & Spa has announced it's partnering with FanDuel, an online betting site, to open a new sports betting facility at the north side casino.

"We are excited to open in Indiana right before the NFL season kicks off, and can’t wait to get started," FanDuel Group spokesman Kevin Hennessy said.

The sportsbook will be FanDuel branded and operated, according to David Strow, spokesman for Boyd Gaming, owner of Blue Chip; he said it's "moving very quickly, an exciting time" for the company.

"We entered into a strategic partnership with FanDuel in 2018 that includes retail sportsbooks, mobile gaming where it is allowed [not yet in Indiana] and cross marketing.

"As the opportunity approached us to offer sports betting in more states, we thought FanDuel would be the perfect partner. They are very well-known in the world of sports betting – most bettors are very familiar with FanDuel from the fantasy football and the online gaming. This was a way to leverage sports betting into a new market."

The new FanDuel Sportsbook will officially open at 10 a.m. Sept. 5, and Boyd Gaming, owners of Blue Chip, have lined up one of the best known names in Chicago sports to kick it off.

NFL Hall of Famer and Bears legend Brian Urlacher will be in Michigan City to place the ceremonial first wager, and will then conduct a Q&A session with fans, Hennessy said.

And then gamblers can start placing their bets.

FanDuel will offer spreads, single bets, parlays and more for all major U.S. sports, including baseball, soccer, football, basketball, golf, boxing, motorsports and just about anything else, according to Blue Chip spokeswoman Toni Antonetti.

"This is a retail sportsbook," Hennessy said. "We will have live teller windows and self-service betting kiosks, along with a great atmosphere for sports fans to watch and enjoy games. Online and mobile wagering will not be available on Sept. 5."

The sportsbook will include five betting windows, 13 video displays along a large video wall, 13 self-service betting kiosks from IGTPlayDigital, two sports tickers, and plenty of seating for bettors who want to watch the game close to where they can collect their winnings, Antonetti said.

"FanDuel manages the Sportsbook for Boyd Gaming," Hennessy said. "FanDuel provides its proprietary risk and trading technology and offers bets on all major U.S. sports, including baseball, soccer, football, basketball, golf, boxing, motorsports racing and more."

For gamblers, the sportsbook will also allow in-play betting, a relatively new concept in betting, but one that now accounts for up to 40 percent of FanDuel betting in some areas, Hennessy said.

In-play betting allows bettors to make new wagers once a game has started, with odds changing [usually during timeoputs and commercial breaks] as the game goes on.

Both partner firms expect to do well with sports betting in Indiana, and Strow also said it's not expected to cut into the casino's other gambling operations.

"It's just a new amenity. It's a new option to spend, and as we've seen in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, it's a new way to engage our existing customer base and attract new bettors."

He said sports betting has shown to "have a great appeal to a younger dynamic" who know FanDuel from its popular app.

The Blue Chip debut is just the latest joint venture between the corporations, Hennessy said.
  
 "This is the latest step in a rapidly expanding national partnership between FanDuel Group and Boyd Gaming. Over the next several weeks, FanDuel Group and Boyd Gaming will be opening four Sportsbooks in the Midwest. We kicked off the partnership by opening the FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino Resort in Pennsylvania – another Boyd Gaming property."
  
 In September, FanDuel will also open at Boyd's Belterra Resort in Indiana; and Diamond Jo Casino and Diamond Jo Worth in Iowa. In August, Boyd Gaming and FanDuel also partnered to launch mobile sports betting across the state of Pennsylvania.
  
 The partners are still waiting on details from the Indiana Gaming Commission on the introduction of mobile gaming in Indiana, Strow said, but added they are "very interested at introducing it at some point. FanDuel is an extremely powerful brand in the mobile gaming world."
  
 The local Sportsbook will be located inside the main entrance to Blue Chip and adjacent to The Game sports bar, on the site of the former It's Vegas Baby! restaurant.
  
 Strow said that's the perfect place, because customers can buy drinks to take into the sportsbook, or just "place their bets and move throughout the property. There are lots of bars and video monitors to enjoy watching the games."
 Blue Chip will be the third Northwest Indiana casino to get in the sportsbook market after the State Legislature passed a law making Indiana the 12th state to allow sports gambling starting Sept. 1. Ameristar Casino in East Chicago will offer wagering on Sept. 1, and Horseshoe Casino in Hammond on Sept. 4. The Majestic Star Casino in Gary did not apply for a sports gambling license.

PLACE YOUR WAGERS

According to the Indiana Gaming Commission, the following events are approved for betting in Indiana, a list updated on Tuesday.

• Auto racing: NASCAR (including Monster Energy Series, Xfinity Series Truck Series); Formula One; IndyCar

• Baseball: MLB and MLB Draft; NCAA Division 1; Minor League Baseball (Triple A)

• Basketball: NBA and NBA Draft;WNBA and WNBA Draft; NCAA - Division 1; Euro League and Euro Cup; International Basketball Federation

• Bowling: Pro Bowling Tour

• Boxing: International Boxing Federation; World Boxing Association; World Boxing Council; World Boxing Organization; Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports

• Cricket: Men’s and Women’s World Cup International Cricket Council

• Darts: PDC

• Football: NFL and NFL Draft; NCAA Division; Canadian Football League; Arena Football League

• Golf: PGA; PGA Tour Champions; LPGA; Champion’s Tour; European Tour; Senior European Tour; International Events (Ryders Cup, Presidents Cup); World Golf Championships; Koran Ferry Tour

• Hockey: NHL and NHL Draft; NCAA Division 1; International Ice Hockey Federation; World Championships

• Lacrosse: NCAA Division 1

• Mixed Martial Arts: Ultimate Fighting Championship; Bellator MMA; One Championship; Professional Fighters League; Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports

• Olympics: Summer and Winter (including trials)

• Rugby: Six Nations; World Cup; World Rugby (International country v. country qualifiers/games/tournaments); Four Nations

• Sailing: Americas Cup; International Sailing Federation

• Soccer: FIFA Sanctioned Events; MLS; UEFA - Champions League, EUROPA and Super Cup; English Premier League; Spanish La Liga; German Bundesliga; Italian Serie A; French Ligue 1; Mexican Liga Bancomer; Spanish La Liga; NCAA Division 1

• Softball: NCAA Division 1

• Tennis: USTA; Association of Tennis Professionals; Women’s Tennis Association; International Tennis Federation;  NCAA Division 1

• Track and Field: International Association of Athletics Federations; NCAA Division 1

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