DraftKings Is Looking To Conquer The Tennessee Sports Betting Market Next

Posted on August 17, 2020 - Last Updated on August 24, 2020

Although the timeline is anyone’s guess, it looks DraftKings Sportsbook will be coming to Tennessee. A recent earnings call for stockholders confirmed that last week.

DraftKings is now the second major US sportsbook brand that has signaled interest in the Volunteer State. There remains much to do yet, however.

When could residents see a DraftKings Tennessee sportsbook?

Right now, that’s up in the air. The Tennessee Lottery has only approved four vendor licenses to date. In June, the lottery board shared that it had received three partial operator license applications, but has given no updates since then.

The lottery board will meet on Wednesday at 1 p.m. CT. Whether the members will approve any licenses during their meeting is unknown at this time.

DraftKings has not divulged whether it was one of those potential operators to submit a partial application. However, the company is interested in operating a sportsbook in Tennessee in the near future.

On its most recent stockholders’ earnings call, the company made that intention pristinely clear, stating it is currently working to enter Tennessee and Virginia for sports betting.

It’s also clear that DraftKings is unlikely to go live in Tennessee before the next football season begins. That’s assuming the NFL and SEC seasons begin as the current schedules dictate.

Right now, the SEC plans to begin its season on Sept. 26. The Tennessee Titans’ first regular-season game of the 2020-21 season is set for Sept. 14.

That gives the lottery and DraftKings less than a month to not only complete the licensure process, but also take care of all the other regulatory work necessary for the sportsbook to start taking bets in the state. That’s a nearly impossible undertaking.

It’s possible that DraftKings might launch in Tennessee sometime during football season, however. Additionally, it may not be alone or the first to market.

Is a Tennessee sportsbook license a hot ticket item?

There’s a lot to like about Tennessee for a sportsbook company like DraftKings. The state has large cities with popular sports teams like Memphis and Nashville within its borders, for one thing.

In addition, all seven states that border Tennessee don’t have legal online sportsbooks right now. Arkansas does have retail sportsbooks, and Virginia has legalized online sports betting, but like in Tennessee, operators have yet to even receive licensure there.

That means operating an online sportsbook in Tennessee would open up access to residents of those states as well. The fact that Tennessee boasts two SEC athletic programs along with franchises in the NBA, NFL and NHL doesn’t hurt either.

Those attractive attributes might be enough to convince sportsbooks to overlook the less desirable features, like the state’s unique 10% hold requirement.

That does appear to be the case right now. DraftKings isn’t the only operator looking to enter the Tennessee sports betting market, and the company could have some competition as to who launches first in the state.

BetMGM has also expressed interest in getting into Tennessee. With a new investor looking to expand MGM’s online gambling presence, it will be interesting to see how the Tennessee sports betting landscape looks in the near future.

It’s still unclear whether BetMGM is one of those three potential operators who submitted a partial application earlier this year, but we may find out after the Tennessee Lottery meets this week.

What we do know for sure is that DraftKings and BetMGM are eyeing Tennessee for expanding their businesses. If that becomes reality, Tennesseans will have access to two of the premier sportsbook brands in the country.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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