While he wouldn't call himself a high roller, Tony Donohue has dropped a buck or two over the years on the outcome of sporting events.
"Few people make a living off sports gambling and I don't expect to be one," the Portage native and Indianapolis radio personality said. "I'm not going to drop $1,000 on a game, but I'll set aside $50 for Sunday. I might bet $20, $100, do a five-team parlay for $10. I go to Vegas every year for the NCAA tournament because it's fun. There's still a gamble, still a risk, but there's a pretty good shot every week that I can turn a profit."
A Fan Duel sports gambling site opens today at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City on the heels of similar ventures in Anderson, Shelbyville and Indianapolis, where the Winner's Circle Pub, Grille and OTB is now an outlet.
"I'm excited about it, I think it's going to be huge," Donohue said. "Every (gambler) in a major city knows a bookie. Why not legislate something that people are doing illegally anyway?"
Donohue, who worked at 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis for 10 years before his recent departure, actually interviewed for jobs at all three locations. He has already been to each site as a customer.
"It was a little underwhelming," he said. "You need patience. It's all new to them. When I interviewed with the people in Indy, I had questions they couldn't answer."
That said, Donohue expects the state's venture into sports gambling to be a boon, giving Indiana a fist bump for making the leap and beating neighboring states like Illinois and Michigan to the punch.
"Indiana is usually 30 years behind," Donohue said. "Northwest Indiana still has a Chicago presence. If you're in Chicago and into sports, you can run over the border and place bets. If you're in Detroit, you can go to Fort Wayne. They're going to be concerned about the customer service aspects, so they're going to do what they can to make sure you come bak. They're going to have beer specials, food specials. If you're coming for the Colts game or the Bears game, they're going to try get you to stay the entire game, to stay for the second game, and bet on that, too. If you come make a bet before a game and leave, they don't really care."
Indianapolis is one of the fastest growing sports meccas in the country and Donohue, a big IndyCar race fan, expects gambling to skyrocket there.
"People talk about Indianapolis being a destination city," he said. "In Indianapolis the next two, three years, you're going to have the Indy 500, the Final Four, the college football national championship, the NBA All-Star game. These events are going to bring people to town on top of what's already here and they're going to bet on games. Indy Car is looking at algorithms, technology where you can bet during the race, like if a pit stop is going to be under eight seconds. They say they're not going to have (betting) windows (at the race track) next year, but I don't necessarily believe it."
The industry has grown immensely despite the fact only 11 states have made it legal largely due to betting websites. Donohue notes that networks like FS1 and ESPN have shows dedicated to insightful wagering. Ryan McGuffey is a Senior Producer of Original Content for NBC Sports Chicago, but like Donohue, is from Portage, so he's happy to see his home state get the leg up.
"I think it's awesome, and Indiana gets a huge jump on Illinois," he said. "It gives the entire Chicagoland area an outlet to feel more comfortable rather than doing something they’re unsure of online or in more unfamiliar ways."
Donohue has done a how-to podcast on YouTube that's accessible through his Twitter page for folks looking to pick up some basic intel.
"Things like, what's a parlay? what does a 460-plus money line mean?" he said. "People may want to bet and not know what they're doing."
Ultimately, Donohue believes the locations offer a favorable alternative to online outlets for bettors who don't have a 'guy' they can call.
"Some of them charge you on your cashout, take 20 percent off the top," he said. "Some, you have to play a certain amount on your cashout, there's a payment process or they want to put it in Bitcoin. I put $500 into a site, got up eight grand, it folded and I never saw my money. This is way simpler. You go, you bet and if you win, you hand them your ticket and boom, you've got your money. You can't beat it."