Tennessee Looks To March Madness To Turn Around February Betting Dip

Posted on March 26, 2021 - Last Updated on February 11, 2022

Tennessee’s sports gaming report has been released for February.

Overall betting handle dipped slightly, which continues a national betting trend. The minor slump is likely due to the short month and the football season coming to an end.

Despite the slump, the Tennessee betting market continues to expand.

Tennessee sports betting numbers see minor dip in February

The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) reported that bettors wagered $176.3 million and won $163.3 million between Feb. 1-28. In return, sportsbooks kept $13 million in revenue and the TEL gathered $2.6 million in taxes.

Sports betting’s popularity has been holding pretty steady in the Volunteer State since launch, and Tennessee sports betting revenue has followed a similar trend.

Tennessee kicked off with a record-setting $131 million in bets during November. Total handle then increased to almost $181 million in December. Once January came, bettors placed $211 million in wagers during a single month – a record for the state.

That upward trend didn’t continue in February, as total wagers declined to $176 million. However, Tennessee is not alone in that decline. Many regulated sports betting markets reported dips in handle from January to February.

The trend isn’t surprising considering February consists of only 28 days and the football season came to an end on Feb.7.

MonthNovember 2020December 2020January 2020February 2020November 1, 2020 - February 28, 2021
Gross Wagers$131 million$181 million$211 million$176.3 million$700 million
Gross Payouts$118 million$167 million$190 million$163.3 million$638 million
Adjusted Gross Income$13 million$14 million$21 million$13 million$62 million
Privilege Tax$2.3 million$3 million$4.4 million$2.6 million$12.4 million

Super Bowl betting contributes to strong numbers

February started off strong with Super Bowl LV. Bettors wagered $15.5 million on the Big Game, resulting in $12.6 million in winnings and $2.9 million in revenue for Tennessee sportsbooks.

That didn’t put Tennessee in the top-five as far as Super Bowl betting handle, but the numbers were still strong for a new market. Tennessee found itself right behind Indiana and Iowa, which saw handles of $18.7 million and $16.3 million, respectively.

While Tennessee’s Super Bowl handle wasn’t record-breaking itself, it helped push Tennessee’s lifetime handle to $699.9 million, which is more than any other US market in its first four months.

As far as the rest of the month went, action was fairly light. Bettors only had NBA and NCAA basketball to wager, on along with the Australian Open and a handful of other sporting events.

That won’t be the case for long, as Tennessee sports bettors are currently enjoying their first March Madness betting experience in a regulated market.

Looking forward: money in March

Tennessee is expected to have another impressive month in March with numbers fueled by March Madness.

This highly anticipated NCAA Tournament is the biggest sporting event of the year – even bigger than the Super Bowl. Since events take place over the course of a few weeks, betting generally skyrockets.

With countless games to wager on, it would be no surprise if Tennessee sports betting bounced back and March was its best month yet.

On top of that, the Tennessee Vols’ recent first-round loss could play a big part in boosting sportsbook’s hold percentage.

Sportsbooks still struggle with hold percentage

In February, operator hold percentage sat at 7.3%.

This number continues to fluctuate for the sportsbooks. Previously, operators logged a 10% hold in November and January, and 7.7% in December.

Surprising sports upsets in November helped the four sportsbooks hit that high hold percentage, mainly the Tennessee Titans losing to the Cincinnati Bengals during the first day of legal wagering.

However, now that the market has been in play for a few months, it looks like numbers are starting to sit closer to the average hold in other regulated states.

If the hold doesn’t go up soon, the following sportsbooks will be paying the TEL some fines:

  • BetMGM
  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • Action 24/7

The market continues to grow

After a few months with just the first-four sportsbooks, Tennesseans finally got some new options.

William Hill launched in the state on March 11, just in time to get in on the March Madness betting action.

A few short days later, TwinSpires Sportsbook joined the party in Tennessee as well.

For a short amount of time, Tennesseans had six sportsbooks to wager with and score great betting promotions, but that all came to a halt on March 18.

What first seemed to be untimely site maintenance on Action 24/7 turned out to be something much more.

For the first time in US history, a sportsbook had its license suspended after the Tennessee Education Lottery shut Action 24/7 down due to allegations of money laundering and proxy betting happening on the site.

However, even without Action 24/7 in play, the market is continuing to expand and get more competitive, which is great news for customers.

Hopefully bettor’s confidence in the state isn’t too shaken by the bad news. We will know for sure when the numbers come out for March.

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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