Tennessee chose the path less traveled by making online betting available first. This approach has paid dividends as far as the latest figures from the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) are concerned. About $131.4m was accepted as wagers by the four legal online sportsbooks in operation for November. This huge handle translated to $13.2m of betting revenue for the sportsbook and about $2.4mas State revenue. We dissect Tennessee’s betting performance and what it means to the betting world.
Tennessee took a divergent approach from how other States were conducting their betting business. Unlike its peers who started with retail, in-person betting, or a hybrid of in-person and online betting, Tennessee chose online betting right from the gate.
Tennessee’s $2.4 million tax haul in its first month is the largest netted by a state in its inaugural month. The significant betting returns for the State and its sportsbooks is a big deal and is one that other states yet to make betting available can copy.
Tennessee Approach helped, but other factors were crucial too
The Nation has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for a year now. Still, the disease spread and fatality are far from low. With many social distancing measures being imposed to curb COVID-19 spread, retail betting was far from ideal to spur sports betting uptake by the public.
On the other hand, online betting allows punters to place their bets at their homes’ comfort without posing a risk for disease spread. The State of Tennessee decision to limit betting to online platforms helped sportsbooks’ bottom-line and saved lives.
Another reason for the crazy sports betting numbers from Tennessee’s inaugural betting month is the timing of the State’s online betting launch. Tennessee’s betting launch coincided with the NFL season run-ins. NFL is the most popular sport in the US, and people were surely going to bet on their favorite sport.
The Tennessee Titans, the State’s football team, is also having a good run in the NFL. Currently, it leads the AFC South with a 10-5 record and is on course to qualify for the playoffs. This performance by the local NFL outfit must have buoyed the State’s NFL fans and helped the operating Sportsbooks.
Tennessee betting operators and their performance
Currently, four sportsbooks are legally operating their online sportsbooks in Tennessee. The first is BetOnline, owned by Flutter Entertainment. Other are BetMGM, DraftKings Sportsbook, and Action 24/7.
Other players such as BetAmerica, WynnBET, William Hill, and ZenSports are also preparing to launch in January after approval by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL).
On performance, the sports betting report offered little on how the four individual sportsbooks performed in the sports betting inaugural month. Such details would have provided crucial information on what Tennessee punters value in their sports wagering experience.
We will have to wait for subsequent months to see whether TEL will post these figures for the public to scrutinize.
While showing optimism on the performance of sports betting in the State, TEL’s CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove was cautious not to use the results to extrapolate future performances.
She noted that though November figures indicated potential, the extraordinary and often strange happenings this year meant that it would be impossible to forecast future sportsbook revenues.
As of December 2020, only Arkansas and Mississippi of Tennessee’s seven border states had any form of legal sports betting. This occurrence may have helped Tennessee, but with more and more states giving operating licenses to retail and online sportsbooks, Tennessee’s fortunes may dip, albeit slightly.
Tennessee is reaping what it sowed, and if the State’s precedence is to be followed by other states, they may reap too.