Tennessee Bettors Wagered Over $200M In January, But Some Of It Seems Suspicious

Posted on February 19, 2021 - Last Updated on March 6, 2024

During a Feb. 17 board of directors meeting, the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) revealed an ongoing investigation concerning two Tennessee sportsbooks and 74 closed user accounts.

Initial January revenue numbers were also released, proving that sports betting in the Volunteer State is here to stay, even if there is a little controversy.

Super Bowl betting anomalies lead to account bans and investigation

Two of Tennessee’s four operational sportsbooks recently reported “significant anomalies” pertaining to Super Bowl betting activity.

The TEL strictly prohibited prop bets not directly related to the football game.

These included non-traditional wagers such as the color of Gatorade poured on the winning coach and the length of the National Anthem, according to TEL CEO Rebecca Hargrove.

As of now, it is unclear as to whether or not the illegal activity had to do with such bets.

Regardless, multiple wagers have since been voided and 74 accounts shut down. Complete details have been withheld since the investigation is ongoing.

Tennesseans dove headfirst into Super Bowl betting

Although overall January and February revenue has not yet been released, the TEL did disclose estimated Super Bowl betting totals for the state.

Tennessee’s four sportsbooks brought in roughly $15.5 million in wagers on the Big Game alone, amounting to $2.9 million in combined revenue for the sportsbooks and a payout of $12.6 million for players.

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Monthly handle over $200 million in January

Sports betting’s popularity has been steadily increasing in the Volunteer State since launch, and so has revenue.

In total, Tennessee bettors put $523 million on the line between Nov. 1, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021, a three-month time span.

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 rolled around, bettors placed $211 million in wagers during a single month.

This left players with a takeaway of $190 million and the state with an accumulated privilege tax of $4.4 million.

January will be the first month the TEL cracks down on its 10% hold requirement for sportsbooks.

Sportsbooks hit the 10% hold in November but fell short in December at 7.7%.

In January, books reported an adjusted gross income of $21 million, hitting the 10% hold requirement square on the head.

Sportsbooks battle for supremacy

Four sportsbooks have been up and running this entire time:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • BetMGM
  • Action 24/7

During a year-end earnings call in mid-February, BetMGM reported collecting 34% of Tennessee’s gaming revenue during fourth-quarter operations.

In January alone, bettors wagered a total of $70 million and deposited $13 million into the sportsbook.

TwinSpires, William Hill and Wynn Sports Tennessee remain poised at the starting gate with no official launch date. Two additional operators continue to wade through the application process.

Michigan takes the lead with first month of revenue numbers

Tennessee set the record for the highest first-month betting total of any state back in November. That short-lived reign has already come to a close, however.

Michigan sportsbooks launched January 22, taking in $115.2 million within the first ten days alone. After factoring in Super Bowl betting, the Great Lake State will likely accumulate close to $400 million in wagers during the first month.

If Tennessee’s revenue continues at its current projectile, the state could see similarly impressive numbers by the end of the year.

That is, as long as current investigations don’t lead to additional shutdowns.

Photo by Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.com
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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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