Tennessee Bettors Wager $27 Million In First Week Of Sports Betting

Posted on November 16, 2020 - Last Updated on April 29, 2021

The results are in for the first week of legal sports betting in Tennessee, proving Tennesseans have been champing at the bit to get in on the legal action.

In a Nov. 16 meeting, the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) announced bettors wagered almost $27.4 million in the state during the first eight days.

In return, sportsbooks accumulated roughly $2.5 million in revenue, resulting in a 9.3% hold.

NFL boosts initial Tennessee betting figures

The launch’s premier saw a single-day betting high of $5.1 million, resulting in total sportsbook revenue of around $800,000. With a packed NFL Sunday schedule, bettors had plenty to wager on.

Sportsbooks were undoubtedly happy on that first day of betting, since the Titans lost, but they won.

FanDuel saw roughly 81% of moneyline bets come in on the Titans that Sunday, and it was the most wagered on any event that day.

TEL CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove feels these numbers, along with total transactions and overall user volume, are encouraging statistics.

The initial eight-day period takes into account Tennessee’s four sports betting apps:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • BetMGM
  • Action 247

The following three operators are the next in line:

DraftKings and FanDuel were granted finalzied licenses, while BetMGM and Action 247 licenses remain conditional. A meeting to approve subsequent operator licenses is expected to be held later this year.

Thirteen more vendor applications were approved during the Nov. 17 board meeting. A full list of approved operators and vendors can be found here.

Pending regulatory issues

While initial numbers appear promising, other aspects of Tennessee’s sports betting voyage are on the rocks.

Per TEL stipulations, all sportsbook advertising materials and promotions must be pre-approved before release. Additionally, operators must provide the TEL with a daily report.

So far, this hasn’t been happening according to plan.

The TEL deliberated on how to uphold Tennessee’s unique 10% hold requirement.

An operator’s hold is based on net cash in and cash out and does not take into account any promotional bonuses given out. The stipulation doesn’t officially go into affect until Jan. 1 and is calculated on a yearly basis.

Board members spent a good chunk of the meeting deciding on how to proceed with repercussions for such violations. The general consensus seemed to favor a discretionary system for fines and other consequences until sports betting in the state becomes more established.

Two of the topics up for debate were how many violations operators should receive for certain infractions, and when those violations could be enacted. While some thought an advertising violation should count as one strike, legal counsel felt operators could receive multiple violations on the same piece of marketing collateral.

For example, if one advertisement failed to have responsible gaming language and a number to REDLINE, that would count as two violations instead of one.

Some members want violations given as soon as the infraction occurs. Others feel it should be given once the operator is notified of the infraction.

Before the meeting adjourned, the committee decided to deliberate on its stance when it comes to violations and make a firm decision at a meeting held sometime in December.

The TEL expects to approve Tennessee’s three other operators then as well.

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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