Will Tennessee Sports Betting Be Live In Time For NFL Season?

Posted on July 2, 2019 - Last Updated on March 9, 2020

The 2019 NFL season is just a couple of months away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that will be enough time to get Tennessee sports betting up and running.

Online sports betting in the Volunteer State is already legal. The details of actually rolling it out have yet to be determined, however.

That process could take several months yet. The beginning of the next NFL season could come first.

Timetable for Tennessee sports betting

State Rep. Rick Staples recently explained his outlook to WTVF Nashville. Staples was one of the legislators behind legalizing sports betting.

In Staples’ opinion, November is the earliest operators in the state could actually start accepting wagers. By that time, NFL teams like the Tennessee Titans will be about halfway through their regular-season schedules.

Tennessee residents wanting to get in on Titans prop bets before the season begins can’t do much to hasten the process.

What is holding up sports betting?

July 1 is the date the new law takes effect. The state won’t prosecute anyone who bets on sports on or after that date.

The state will put potential operators through a screening process. The state’s lottery will oversee that activity.

There is also a matter of determining exactly how the tax revenue will be distributed.

Where will tax dollars produced by sports betting go?

The lottery will keep the majority of the revenue to fund education. A percentage will also go to fund problem gambling programs.

Counties and municipalities in the state will receive a 15% cut for infrastructure projects and road improvements. Projections by the state Legislature estimated total annual revenues in the tens of millions of dollars.

The state also needs to hash out requirements for:

  • Registration
  • Self-exemption programs
  • Operator audit procedures

When the lottery establishes the rules and approves operators, the action begins.

Betting could be legal in time for major events

While the next college football and NFL seasons will begin before sports betting rolls out, the implementation should happen in time for some major sporting events.

Any bowl games the Memphis Tigers and/or Tennessee Volunteers take part in could be fair game. The NFL playoffs and Super Bowl LIV are on the list as well.

The 2019-20 Memphis Grizzlies and Nashville Predators seasons, which haven’t yet been announced, are two more items of interest that will begin before betting rolls out. Betting should be available for most of those seasons, however.

The majority of the next men’s college basketball season, including March Madness 2020, is also a possibility. College sports betting will be legal on one condition.

No in-game betting on college sports allowed

Tennessee residents who are looking to place prop bets on how many touchdown passes Brady White will throw or how many points John Fulkerson will score in a game will be disappointed.

In-game wagers on college sports are illegal. Tennessee residents can bet on other things like the outcomes of individual games and extended futures like win totals. In-game props on all professional sports are legal.

While there’s no set deadline right now, it seems certain that the next round of major American football games will start before legal sportsbook operators get going in Tennessee. 2019 will be the last year that’s the case, however.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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