The Book at Caesars’ Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, the second sports betting facility to open this week in Northwest Indiana, is now officially open for business after a grand opening which took place September 4.

Professional football appeared to be the subject of most bets being placed ahead of Thursday’s season-opening clash between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field in Chicago that began the NFL’s 100th season.

Former Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, who was on hand for the grand opening of The Book, said that while he’s not a regular gambler, he’s betting this year on the Bears “because I know how good that team is.”

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said he’s a Bears believer and even put his money where his mouth was. 

The four-term leader of Lake County’s most populous city placed the first official bets at the Horseshoe, wagering $100 on the Bears to win the Super Bowl, $50 on Notre Dame to win the college football national championship and $50 on the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series, NWI Times reports.

McDermott said the new Horseshoe sportsbook is “another beautiful addition” to “the best casino located outside of Las Vegas.”

“When I first took over as mayor (in 2004) this was a small, little boat. It was very crowded and very smoky, and to see what Caesars and what Horseshoe Casino Hammond have done,” McDermott said.

“The number of people that we draw from outside of Indiana right here into Indiana, I tell you it’s amazing to see things progress over time.”

Horseshoe Hammond Casino received Indiana Gaming Commission approval this week for its retail sportsbook, a specialized location within casinos where wagers can be placed on myriad of sports, with the exception of esports and those sports whose participants are younger than 18.

“Nothing like this has ever happened this fast in my recollection,” Horseshoe Casino General Manager Dan Nita said. “Typically, legislation gets approved and things take nine months, 12 months.”

“The fact that the governor signed the law in May and here we are in the first week of September is truly a tribute to everyone that was involved.”

Sara Tait, Indiana Gaming Commission executive director, who helped cut the ribbon on The Book alongside Nita, McDermott and Forte, was just as quick to credit the team at the Horseshoe Casino and its parent company, Caesars Entertainment.

“The Gaming Commission set very high standards. We didn’t do them any favors, and Horseshoe Hammond was able to meet those standards on a very aggressive timeline,” Tait said.

“Check this place out. The investment that Caesars put in here, the facilities, they’re top-notch. I think patrons will find that this sportsbook is as nice as any sportsbook in the country, and I think people are going to enjoy this new offering.”

Horseshoe Hammond’s The Book is one of seven Caesars Entertainment sportsbooks opening throughout September in Indiana. Other locations include: Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Indiana Grand, Winner’s Circle Clarksville, Winner’s Circle Indianapolis and Winner’s Circle New Haven.

The company also unveiled that Horseshoe Hammond will be introducing the next evolution of mobile sports betting technology with the launch of the Caesars Sports app in the near future.

“It takes a large team to open a sportsbook,” Nita said. “We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we started this endeavor.”

The Book is a smoke-free area that covers approximately 5,300 square feet on the casino floor at the base of the escalator that goes to the Village Square Buffet and The Venue concert hall.

It’s open from 8 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays; 11 a.m. to midnight on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Winning wagers can be cashed 24 hours a day at the main casino cashier.

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