Churchill Downs Approved As Tennessee’s Fifth Sports Betting Operator

Posted on January 7, 2021 - Last Updated on April 29, 2021

The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) held a special Sports Wagering Committee meeting Wednesday, Jan. 6.

Another operator will soon go live in Tennessee, marking the fifth sportsbook available to players in the state.

Tennessee Sports Wagering Committee meeting notes

TEL CEO Rebecca Hargrove opened the meeting reiterating first month revenue numbers that were released on Dec. 23. Sportsbooks received roughly $131 million in wagers, players cashed out $118 million, and the state gathered $2.3 million in privilege tax.

Hargrove said the board was certainly encouraged by the initial success. She advised, however, that each month’s numbers will be fluid – conditional on the types of sports occurring each month.

The TEL intends to release December revenue numbers by the end of January.

During the meeting, the Board of Directors and committee members discussed the approval of one new operator and 12 new vendors.

Operator, vendor, and sponsor applications are still coming in. The full list of approved organizations can be found here.

Churchill Downs’ BetAmerica sportsbook given the green light

Churchill Downs Interactive Gaming LLC, which operates the sportsbook BetAmerica (soon to be rebranded TwinSpires) was unanimously approved as Tennessee’s newest operator.

Tennessee has been prepping to welcome new operators to the fold since the end of November.

Churchill Downs has a rich history in the horse racing world. In order to remain relevant in the expanding industry, the brand extended into the sports betting market through BetAmerica.

Tennessee will become the fourth state in which BetAmerica Sportsbook is operational.

New operators poised at the starting gate

BetAmerica, which was originally expected to be approved in December, will join the other four sportsbooks currently active in the state:

Advisory members did not give a timeline for when the new sportsbook will launch. They did say, however, that the goal is to launch sometime before the Super Bowl.

Three other operators continue to wait for conditional licenses:

The meeting also discussed ZenSports’ unique peer-to-peer platform. Since it is not operational in any US jurisdiction thus far, the TEL is hesitant to set the standard by approving the model.

However, ZenSports has noted that its sportsbook can operate traditionally as well, turning off and on as many features as necessary to adhere to state regulations.

The board motioned to schedule an additional meeting at the end of January to grant additional approvals. Hargrove mentioned the timing of the next meeting would give new operators time to launch before the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.

Tennessee could very well have seven or more sportsbooks in play by the beginning of next month.

With more operator approvals on the horizon, the sky is the limit for sports betting revenue in 2021.

Photo by Associated Press
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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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