Tennessee Sports Betting Is Live: What You Should Know

Posted on October 31, 2020 - Last Updated on November 1, 2020

Tennessee is officially the 20th US state or jurisdiction to launch sports betting as the market went live at 12:01 a.m. local time Sunday.

The law authorizing sports betting passed in May 2019. It took state regulators until now to prepare for the launch of legal sportsbooks, but the day is here.

There are four licensed Tennessee online sports betting operators so far:

Three more operators applied – confirmed to be Churchill Down‘s BetAmerica, William Hill and Wynn by a Tennessee Education Lottery spokesperson – but will not launch this weekend.

All four licensed operators went live on day one, which is also an NFL betting Sunday. Action 24/7 originally had trouble getting enough insurance coverage and wasn’t guaranteed a day-one launch.

What sports can you bet on in Tennessee?

One positive Tennessee has going for it is the full slate of sports available to bet. That includes NFL betting including the Tennessee Titans and NCAA college football right now.

Along with all the major sports and betting on their All-Star games, pre-season games and drafts, people can bet on a number of events considered outside the law in other states.

Those include betting on the Olympics and esports, though there’s a catch for the latter. Esports betting requires individual approval of each league and its matches.

Tennessee also avoided the common mistake of banning betting on in-state colleges, meaning locals can bet on favorites like the University of Tennessee Volunteers. The only exception is a limit on prop bets for college sports, including a ban on in-game props.

How does TN sports betting work?

All sports betting in Tennessee must take place via a mobile device. There are no casinos in Tennessee, meaning that betting via a smartphone app is the only way to get legal bets down.

You do not need to be a resident of Tennessee to place a wager. However, you do need to be located physically within the borders of the state to wager on a TN sports betting app.

Your phone verifies your location using the same GPS technology that powers map functions. The sportsbook app must be able to confirm that location or the bet cannot be accepted.

Tennessee betting basics

Virtually anyone that can afford the $750,000 annual license fee can apply for a TN sports betting license. The lottery is not capping the number of operators in the state.

Why just four operators to start? That’s likely linked to Tennessee’s bizarre requirement for sportsbooks to hold a minimum of 10%. No operators have publicly addressed how they intend to manage that 10% hold average over a year of operations.

Couple that hold requirement with a 20% revenue tax rate and the required use of official league data and it’s easy to see how interest begins to fall off.

That means operators need to take at least $7.5 million in annual handle just to break even on the licensing fee before covering any additional costs. With no cap on licenses, smaller operators might not see a path to profitability in the market.

Sportsbooks confirm Tennessee launch

BetMGM was the first to announce Thursday that it would definitely launch TN sports betting on Sunday.

Even though the launches were expected, it’s significant to get confirmation given the work left to be done in Tennessee less than two weeks ago.

“We’ve been eagerly working with regulators in Tennessee to make this momentous launch a possibility and look forward to introducing the state’s passionate fan bases to the excitement of betting on sports with BetMGM,” said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt.

DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook both followed Friday with confirmation they will also be live Sunday.

Not just locals wagering in TN

Sportsbook operators should be looking at Tennessee’s border states to drum up additional business.

Of the eight states that border Tennessee, only Virginia allows mobile sports betting, and that state has not yet launched.

That means bettors from the seven other states only need to cross the Tennessee border to place their bets:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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