Tennessee Sets Record With First Month’s Sports Betting Handle

Posted on December 23, 2020 - Last Updated on April 29, 2021

Tennessee sports betting has hit the ground running. The state can now boast the best sports betting launch to-date in the US.

First month revenue reports have been released for November.

As it looks, Tennessee’s online-only sports betting climate is thriving. The state took in over $131 million in wagers during its first month.

The first eight days of Tennessee sports betting handle

An initial report provided by the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) revealed Tennesseans wagered over $27 million during the first eight days of legal sports betting.

Players wagered more than $5 million in the first day alone.

Most of that money came in on the Tennessee Titans during the team’s matchup with the Bengals. Launching right in the middle of the NFL season, while Tennessee was playing very well, no doubt spurred massive betting action.

Operators reported some of the highest first-day revenue numbers of any state. Sportsbooks accumulated roughly $2.5 million in revenue, resulting in a 9.3% hold.

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

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • BetMGM
  • Action 24/7

TEL President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove said early numbers looked promising,

“In our role as the regulator of this industry we are focused on establishing and supporting a responsible and competitive sports wagering program in Tennessee. These numbers are encouraging as we work to protect the consumer, promote fairness in sports and regulate this new Tennessee industry that provides critical funds for education, as well as local governments and problem gambling services.”

First month of sports betting handle shatters records

Taking Tennessee’s first eight days of wagering into account, one-month revenue totals were on track to amount to over $101 million.

In reality, bettors wagered over $131 million, resulting in more than $118 million in winnings for players and $13 million in revenue for sportsbooks.

Here’s a look at how some other states fared during their launches.

StateLaunch DateFirst Month Handle
DelawareJune 2018$7 million
New JerseyJune 2018$16.4 million
MississippiAugust 2018$6.3 million
West VirginiaSeptember 2018$7.44 million
PennsylvaniaNovember 2018$1.41 million
Rhode IslandNovember 2018$682,714
ArkansasJuly 2019$416,000
IndianaSeptember 2019$35.2 million

Indiana previously held the record for the best launch, but Tennessee just shattered that.

Sportsbooks in Tennessee are required to pay a 20% privilege tax on adjusted gross revenue, amounting to roughly $2.3 million this month.

This means operators generated an overall 10% hold during November. Tennessee’s mandatory 10% hold, required by the TEL, does not officially go into effect until January. However, it is good to see sportsbooks on target early.

Judging by initial numbers, Tennessee’s first year is set up to be a substantial one.

Hargrove is cautiously optimistic about the state’s future:

“Our first month of sports wagering in Tennessee comes at a unique time in the world, let alone the sports world. November’s figures include adjustments and indicate potential. It is only one month in an unpredictable and extraordinary year, making it difficult to begin extrapolating out from this single month.”

The only states bordering Tennessee with legalized sports betting are Mississippi and Arkansas.

Mississippi handle topped $6.3 million during its first month in August 2018.

In November of this year, Mississippi sportsbooks, which only operate out of retail locations, saw $54.4 million in total wagers.

In Arkansas, players only wagered $416,000 during its opening month of July 2019.

Based off this historic launch, Tennessee will be one of the top 10 betting markets after just a month of accepting wagers.

While it still has a ways to go to catch up to the $231.2 million wagered in Colorado last month, or the $251 million haul Indiana saw, the state is well on its way.

2021 and beyond in Tennessee

As mentioned earlier, Tennessee operators must pay a 20% privilege tax on adjusted gross income.

The TEL’s own Lottery for Education account receives 80% of those appointed tax funds. Then, 15% goes to fund road and infrastructure projects.

State-funded gambling addiction programs receive the remaining amount.

This could result in major revenue for state projects.

Before the launch, the TEL projected Tennessee’s first year of sports betting would bring in $41 million for the state and $7.6 million for local governments, and an additional $2.5 million for Tennessee responsible gambling programs.

The state is currently on track to accumulate upwards of $30 million over the course of an entire year, resulting in around $1.5 million dedicated to enhanced responsible gambling resources.

With more operators set to take the stage, numbers could be even higher.

The following three sportsbook operators are next in line:

There are more operators submitting applications as we type.

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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