Tennessee Sports Betting Sites and Apps: January 2020 Launch Likely
Apr 25, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans flags prior to the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
- Sports betting is now legal in Tennessee, but don't expect any sites or apps to go live until early 2020.
- Sports betting will be offered exclusively online, a contrast from many other states still offering only in-person betting at retail books.
Possible Sports Betting Apps
Here are some sports betting sites and apps that might be coming to Tennessee in 2020.
Even with these rules in place, big operators will be in Tennessee. Draftkings, 888, BetMGM all said they will have a presence in the state.
“We are committed to working with the Tennessee Lottery throughout the application and licensing process and, pending successful licensure, look forward to offering our top-rated sportsbook to sports fans in Tennessee,” DraftKings’ chief compliance officer Tim Dent told Gambling.com.
How Tennessee Sports Betting Compares
We graded on its sports betting bill and experience relative to other states.
Overall Tennessee Sports Betting Experience: D+
Tennessee got two major points right — online betting and depositing — and then squandered both with mandatory unfair pricing. Some casual bettors will still sign up and bet, but anyone who’s even a little serious about sports betting will return to local bookies and offshore websites offering reasonable odds.
Mobile Betting Options: A-
Tennessee will have online sports betting. That’s a great start and a welcome surprise. Online betting is the only way for states to generate meaningful revenue, and it’s the preferred method for bettors. More than 80% of the betting handle in New Jersey has come online. The state has generated $62.6 million in tax revenue over the last 24 months.
With no in-person casinos, Tennessee bettors should be able to register and deposit online. Eliminating in-person sign-ups and deposits is a huge benefit to operators and bettors, who will be more willing to use multiple sportsbooks.
Fair Pricing: F
Tennessee got the first two steps right. And then it fumbled entering the red zone. And then faceplanted. The 10% mandatory hold on each bet will force operators to pass costs onto the consumer. And the operators have to. There won’t be a savvy legal book that comes in and undercuts the market.
Instead of betting an NFL point spread at -110, you’ll be betting at -120 or worse. It’s already difficult enough to make money in sports betting. Now anyone in Tennessee really has the odds stacked against them.
Sport Offerings: B
We don’t know exactly what sports will be offered in Tennessee, but bettors can wager on college teams in the state like the Tennessee Volunteers or Memphis Tigers. In some other states, wagering on college teams in the state is prohibited. But it’s nice to see a state with such loyal college fans have the option to bet on their teams.
Tennessee won’t have live betting on college teams, and its requirement for sportsbook to buy official league data to offer any live betting may limit what’s available.
The 10% Hold, Explained
Tennessee’s sports betting rules and regulations are terrible for both bettors and sportsbooks. The state did say it can revisit its rules after one year, so hopefully by the 2021 football season, it will have a more consumer-friendly market.
The state is mandating books generate at least a 10% hold and cap payouts at 90% of a bettor’s wager, meaning bettors in Tennessee will be forced to pay a much steeper cut to operators than what you see in other states or in illegal markets.
So what is a hold? It’s the percentage of money the sportsbook holds onto after all bets have been settled, or simply gross revenue divided by dollars wagered. Nevada and New Jersey, the two most developed sports betting markets in the country, have been between 5-7%.
A 10% hold implies -120 or -125 on each side of a standard bet with two outcomes, as opposed to the -110 you see most places.
So a typical NFL bet might look like this:
- Tennessee Titans +6.5 (-120)
- New England Patriots -6.5 (-125)
So instead of wagering $110 to win $100 on an NFL point spread, Tennessee bettors will have to wager $125 to win $100. That’s a massive disadvantage.
Again: For every $100 you bet, you’re going to be paying the sportsbook an extra $10 or $15. Sportsbooks may get to 10% differently, and choose to bury massive holds into bet types where it’s more difficult to calculate the hold with the naked eye.
Here are some other downstream effects you might see at a Tennessee online sportsbook.
- Caps on parlay and futures payouts so sportsbooks can limit their exposure. If the Memphis Grizzlies are 100-1 to win the NBA title at most books, you could be capped at 50-1 in Tennessee. If you bet a 2-team parlay, you may get paid 2-1 instead of 2.6-1.
- Even worse odds than -125 to balance risk
- Completely unfair one-way markets
There appears to be some disagreement within the Tennessee lottery about whether or not a mandatory hold is the right move.
Tennessee Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove said the cap would guarantee taxable revenue for the state, and create an equal playing field for smaller players so that bigger books can’t operate at a loss to scoop up market share (which they’ve been doing in other states).
The lottery’s new sports betting director, Jennifer Roberts, wants no cap so the state can be “fully competitive with the illegal market.”
Again, Tennessee can review these rules after one year. So we hope it gets better in 2021. So what happens if a sportsbook doesn’t get to 10%? We don’t know, but likely a loss of license.
“The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation’s Board of Directors reserves the right to determine the consequences of failure of an Operator to meet this requirement, within the confines of the Rules, Regulations and Standards and the governing legislation,” Dave Smith, director of communications for the Tennessee lottery, said in an email.
The Good: A Tennessee Betting Success
Tennessee going with full online sports betting is great news. That’s step one for success.
It’s somewhat surprising to see a southern state with no existing gambling presence go straight to online betting. But it’s definitely a good sign, and could lay the blueprint for Georgia or Alabama, which have no existing casinos or gambling.
It also avoided a few disastrous proposals, including:
- No betting on Sundays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. or on holidays
- No betting on an “occurrence determinable by one person or one play”, which would have prevented betting on golf, tennis, NASCAR and much more, plus betting on all props.
The Bad: What It Got Wrong
We can’t hammer it home enough. The mandatory 10% hold is unfair to bettors, and will prevent the state from generating serious revenue because bettors will return to illegal markets. You’ll be betting almost everything at -120 or worse.
Research firm Eilers & Krejcik projected that a 15% hold proposed initially would cut the number of operators in half, and cost the state more than $10M per year in tax revenue. It also detailed how France, which has a similar minimum hold to Tennessee, has failed to generate “meaningful consumer participation” and revenue.
The high barrier to entry for operators ($750,000 yearly fee, 20% tax rate) will prevent many from even entering the market because they can’t recoup the cost.
Lastly, the requirement for operators to buy official league data to provide live betting is a disappointment. The leagues have been pushing for this as new states come online, and they got to Tennessee.
Tennessee Sports Betting FAQ
Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Tennessee?
Yes, online sports gambling is now legal in Tennessee. We’re just waiting on operators to begin offering a sports betting product. Once operational, bettors will need to be inside state borders to place bets.
Can I Use DraftKings Sportsbook in Tennessee?
Bettors can’t use DraftKings Sportsbook yet in Tennessee but expect it to be among the first players in the state when betting is live in Q3 or 2020.
Is Bovada Legal In Tennessee?
Bovada is not legal in Tennessee, and won’t be necessary for sports bettors in the Volunteer State soon, since it’s an illegal offshore sportsbook that isn’t regulated by any governing body.
How Old Do I Have to Be to Bet?
You must be 21 years old to bet on sports in Tennessee, and can’t be associated with a professional or college sports team in any way.
Where Can I Bet on Sports in Tennessee?
Anywhere, as long as you’re inside the state border and have an Internet connection.
Who Can Apply for a Tennessee Sports Betting License?
Anyone willing to pay the $750,000 per-year licensing fee can apply. There is no limit on licenses in the state.
Are Any Sports Off Limits?
You can’t live bet on college football and college basketball, nor college player props, but that’s the extent of the limitations relative to other legal U.S. markets. So while you can bet on a Tennessee Volunteers point spread before a game, you can’t bet on them live, or on player props.
Tennessee Sports Betting Timeline
November 2018: Rep. Rick Staples introduced a bill to legalize sports betting, though the eventual bill that passed looks much different than his first version.
April 2019: The bill made it through the state Senate easily, but narrowly cleared a House committee.
June 2019: Governor Bill Lee, who is opposed to legal sports betting, allows the bill to pass into law without his signature.
Feb. 2020: Tennessee puts forth potential regulations that frighten the entire industry, including a 15% hold, no bets on events that can be influenced by one person (like golf or tennis), and no betting from 3-10 p.m. on Sundays or on holidays.
April 2020: Tennessee finalizes regulations for online sports betting, including the mandatory 10% hold and requirement for operators to buy official league data to offer live betting. But it skips many of the other restrictions that could have doomed the market.
July 2020 (projected): Sports betting goes live in Tennessee.
Tennessee Sports Betting Tips
Sports Betting for TN Beginners
New to sports betting? Check out our 11 sports betting tips for beginners so you can get started in Tennessee, whether you want to bet on the Tennessee Titans or Nashville Predators.
Sports Betting Glossary
The sports betting lexicon is vast and sometimes confusing, especially to new bettors. Check out our sports betting glossary to get up to speed with every term you might need to know.
Sports Betting Mistakes to Avoid
Betting on your favorite teams like the Tennessee Titans or Memphis Grizzlies might seem like a no-brainer, but you need to be careful if you’re going to sustain in the sports betting world. Here are nine mistakes to avoid.
How to Place a Sports Bet in Tennessee
Once Tennessee sports betting goes live, you’ll want to jump into the fray right away. Here’s how to do it in a legal state.
1) Choose a Sportsbook
You’ll want to have accounts at multiple sportsbooks to get the best price on every game, but you have to start with one. Let’s start with DraftKings. Click the link to get started, and you’ll automatically get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.
2) Sign Up
Fill out all the required fields. DraftKings might ask you for a driver’s license or social security number to verify your identity.
DraftKings will take you right to the deposit screen once you’ve put in your information. Select your payment method, then click deposit.
Our preference is direct deposit via a bank account — that way when you cash out, the money will go right to your checking account instead of being credited back to a card.
4) Place a Bet
DraftKings has a strong mobile experience and user-friendly betting slip. Here’s how to place your first bet.
- Navigate to sport
- Click the line you want to bet
- Head to your bet slip
- Enter your bet amount
Congrats! You’ve just placed your first sports bet (now go track it in The Action Network app).
Tennessee Sports Betting Locations
Tennessee is one of the few states in the United States without any casinos, so you won’t be able to bet in person. Only online.
The closest thing to an in-person sportsbook will be a sports bar with your phone. Not a bad combination. Nashville Guru put together a list of the best sports bars in Nashville and around the state, including:
- Address: Four TN Locations
Double Dog’s has locations in Hillsboro Village and Sylvan Heights, and another two in Knoxville. It features plenty of TVs, and each table has an individual audio selector so you can listen to the sound on any game you want.
Beyond the Edge
- Address: 112 S. 11th Street, Nashville, TN 37206
- Phone: 615-226-3343
This East Nashville spot has 25 TVs and more than 125 beers on tap. It’s about 1.5 miles from Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans.
Acme Feed and Seed
- Address: 101 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37201
- Phone: 615-915-0888
Looking to watch sports and bet on Broadway, the biggest tourist attraction in Nashville? The second floor of Acme Feed and Seed has plenty of TVs. Acme is on the corner of Broadway and 1st Avenue, right across the Cumberland River from Nissan Stadium.
Tennessee Teams to Bet on
Tennessee has a wealth of professional and college sports teams.
Division I Football & Basketball
- Tennessee Volunteers
- Memphis Tigers
- Vanderbilt Commodores
- Middle Tennessee State
Division I Basketball Only
- Austin Peay
- East Tennessee State
- Tennessee State
- Tennessee Tech
- UT Martin
Pro Sports Teams
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Nashville Predators
- Tennessee Titans
- Nashville SC
Nashville has three teams in the immediate downtown area — the Tennessee Titans and MLS’s Nashville SC play at Nissan Stadium across the Cumberland River from Broadway, and the NHL’s Nashville Predators play downtown at Bridgestone Arena.
- NASCAR’s Bristol Motor Speedway
- SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament
Bristol Motor Speedway hosts the Food City 500 each yet. Bristol is in the northeastern tip of Tennessee, about 300 miles from Nashville.
Bridgestone Arena will host the SEC Tournament each year through 2030 except 2022, when it heads to Amalie Arena in Tampa. Bridgestone and Nashville have the facilities and capacity to host even more marquee events.
More Reading on Tennessee
Official Sports Betting Documentation:
Local coverage & Opinions
- Nelson: Sports betting is (finally, probably) coming to Tennessee. Let’s hope sports do, too from Michael Nelson for The Daily Memphian
Data-Driven analysis of Tennessee’s Approach to Sports Betting
- Analysis of Tennessee’s Proposed Minimum Hold Requirement From Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, Commissioned by iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA), a non-profit association