March Madness Boosted Tennessee Betting Handle To Nearly $206 Million Last Month

Posted on April 26, 2021 - Last Updated on May 4, 2021

Tennessee sports bettors wagered $205.9 million in the month of March, marking the second-best month ever for the state.

March Madness betting and the addition of two new sportsbooks in Tennessee contributed to this rise in handle. The state’s total handle since launch is approaching $1 billion.

Tennessee bets big for March Madness

March Madness is one of the biggest sporting and sports betting events in the country. This year, Tennesseans could finally participate in the action.

Bettors wagered $205.9 million throughout March, almost $30 million more than last month. February’s handle totaled $176.3 million, which was a dip for the state and many other markets around the country.

Last month, sportsbooks paid out a total of $187.9 million to Tennessee bettors – up $24.6 million from February.

Adjusted gross income came in at $16.1 million across operators and the state brought in $3.2 million worth of privilege tax from sportsbooks.

While it is unclear just how much was wagered on college basketball last month, it’s clear March Madness played big role in bettors wagering almost 17% more in March than in February.

This resulted in a 7.8% hold for sportsbooks in March, slightly lower than the state’s 10% requirement for the year.

Sports betting holds strong in Tennessee

As the nation’s single mobile-only sports betting market currently operating, Tennessee has been setting the standard. January still holds the record for the highest month of handle yet at $211.3 million.

Since launch, Tennesseans have wagered $905.9 million on sports betting, just shy of being the quickest state to reach $1 billion in lifetime handle.

To date, sportsbooks have garnered $78.1 million in adjusted gross revenue and $15.6 million in privilege tax for the state.

However, sportsbooks are still missing the mark when it comes to the 10% hold requirement. The average hold since launch sits at 8.6%. It remains unclear what the repercussions will be for this miss. The TEL has discussed fines as well as license suspensions for “egregious offenses”.

In addition to the four original Tennessee sportsbooks, two more are now contributing to Tennessee sports betting revenue and the hold percentage each month.

This March, the Volunteer State welcomed two more sportsbooks to the fold.

William Hill went live on March 11 and TwinSpires debuted on March 19.

While these new sportsbooks joined the starting lineup, one book sat on the bench during this busy betting month.

Legal action stirs in Tennessee

March saw more than just college basketball betting and new sportsbooks in the state. Tennessee sports betting has become a hot issue when it comes to the legislative realm.

On March 18, Action 24/7 became the first sportsbook in the nation to have its license suspended. Tennessee sports betting’s regulatory body, the TEL, suspended the operator’s license due to issues concerning credit card fraud, money laundering and proxy betting.

The sportsbook had to sit on the bench for a good chunk of March Madness.

The subsequent week, Action 24/7 took the ruling to court.

The suspension was ultimately overturned by Nashville judge Patricia Moskal on March 26. She found that the TEL did not follow its own processes when it comes to suspending an operator and did not allow for due process.

Moskal subsequently ruled that the TEL board would not be permitted to hold any subsequent hearings on the previous incidents involving the Action 24/7 suspension.

While that was the big story, it wasn’t the only issue with a Tennessee sportsbook.

William Hill found itself treading water in late March when it allegedly ran prop bets on individual college athletes for an NCAA basketball game. Tennessee bans bets on individual collegiate athletes.

The bet was removed and the lottery is currently investigating.

Now, legislators are filing bills left and right in an attempt to tighten up the process when it comes to sports betting meetings and rules.

Although the state is in the midst of some legislative chaos, the continued growth of sports betting in the state is a good sign of things to come. Bettors are engaged, the foundation remains strong, and new operators continue to enter the market.

Here’s to hoping next month is a record-setting month free of lawsuits.

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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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