Two more sports betting operators were approved to take bets in Tennessee Friday. Unfortunately for them, they won’t be live in time for a crucial event: the Super Bowl.
That expands the list of approved TN sports betting operators to seven, with just the original four from launch live. Churchill Downs‘ launch is also still pending.
ZenSports, the only other operator with a pending Tennessee license, was not discussed at Friday’s meeting.
Tennessee sports betting has solid first two months
The first two months of sports betting in Tennessee have been off the charts compared to previous state launches.
Tennessee’s four mobile sportsbooks took $180.9 million in bets last month, up 37.7% over its first month in November. Sports betting payout was $13.9 million in December, up 5.3% from $13.2 million the prior month. That equaled $3.1 million in tax revenue, according to the one-paragraph state report.
No doubt handle was so high thanks to NFL betting on the four Tennessee Titans games in December. It was also the first opportunity for bettors to legally bet on the Memphis Grizzlies as the NBA started around Christmas.
Tennessee is also likely seeing a lot of out-of-state traffic crossing its borders to bet. The Volunteer State has eight border states but none offered mobile sports betting in December. Arkansas offers retail betting and mobile sports betting in Virginia launched just last week.
Hold requirement starts in January
Had December’s results come in January, some operators would be off to a rough start for the year. Hold was 7.7%, down from 10% in November.
January is the first month Tennessee’s mandatory 10% hold is in effect. Sportsbooks could be penalized if they don’t hold at least 10% annually, though it’s still unclear what those penalties could be. It could stop at a $25,000 fine, or the Tennessee Education Lottery could “impose additional recourse.”
If it’s just a $25,000 fine, then don’t necessarily expect to see a 10% hold in January or February, either. Sportsbooks easily spend more than $25,000 when it comes to promotions surrounding big sign-up events like the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl, so the fine could just be looked at as an additional cost.