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Tennessee Sports Betting Starts Strong With 3 More Sportsbooks Pending

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Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Nissan Stadium.

DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM all recorded more in total handle during Tennessee’s Nov. 1 sports-betting launch than each had on any other states’ opening day.

Tennessee’s four legal sportsbooks, including Nashville-based Tennessee Action 24/7, took in $5.1 in wagers on opening day. The quartet recorded $27 million in total handle between Nov. 1-8, the first stretch of revenue figures announced by the Tennessee Education Lottery.

“We’re off to a great start,” TEL president and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove said during a meeting Monday.

The four sportsbooks combined to split roughly $800,000 in revenue on Nov. 1 alone. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 8, the quartet netted $2.5 million in combined adjusted net revenues, which in turn generated more than $500,000 in state tax revenues.

Promotions, Football Spark Tennessee Interest

Tennessee’s massive opening week was bolstered by an intense promotional blitz and one of the most lucrative times in the American sports calendar.

In addition to a multimillion-dollar advertising barrage, DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM all offered some of their most generous signup bonuses and promotions ever:

  • DraftKings bettors in Tennessee can get a first deposit bonus up to $1,000, double the rate offered in other states its launched.
  • FanDuel users can get a risk-free bet up to $1,000.
  • BetMGM is offering an instant deposit match up to $500.
  • Tennessee Action 24/7, the first nation’s first “local” sportsbook, offers an initial deposit match up to $100.

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A fall launch in football-crazy Tennessee surely didn’t hurt either.

The Nov. 1 start came just in time for the Tennessee Titans’ road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. On Nov. 8, the Titans topped the Chicago Bears at home in the first NFL game played in Tennessee with legal sports betting. The hometown Titans’ two games undoubtedly played a large role in making football, as expected, the most lucrative sport for Tennessee sportsbooks in their opening days.

TEL officials didn’t disclose how much football made up of the total handle, but they did reveal NFL wagers made up 60 percent of all football bets and college football made up 40 percent. The Tennessee Volunteers played their first game since in-state betting was legalized in a 24-13 loss at Arkansas Nov. 7, a game that surely made up a large portion of the state’s NCAA handle.

Notably, first-week betting lines seemed to align with the market consensus, a major concern after Tennessee officials required all sportsbooks to hold at least 10 percent of monthly betting revenues. Since sportsbooks traditionally average between a 5% and 7% hold long term, some industry observers worried this would require sportsbooks to offer non-competitive lines, a fear that has — so far — largely seemed not to pan out, allowing legal books to compete with offshore sites and unregulated bookies.

More Sportsbooks on the Way

Three more sportsbooks could be on the way as well, TEL officials said on Monday, opening the door for as many as seven sportsbooks to go live by the end of 2020.

Churchill Downs’ BetAmerica, Caesars’ William Hill and Wynn’s WynnBet could all go live as early as next month, Hargrove said. Final approval will require an emergency meeting, but that appears to all but a formality. All three operate sportsbooks in multiple other states and should be poised to enter the market as soon as they’re granted the final go-ahead.

After 18 months of regulatory review and approval since lawmakers legalized wagering in 2019, Tennessee may end 2020 with one of the nation’s more robust array of online sportsbooks.

The first state to exclusively allow online sportsbooks, and the first to permit an uncapped number of entries, Tennessee is poised to be one of the more competitive and lucrative per capita sports betting states in the country. Assuming all three applicants currently under review earn approval, Tennessee could have more online sportsbooks (seven) go live by the end of 2020 than Illinois (five), which has more than a dozen commercial casinos and launched its first digital sportsbooks in June.

Tennessee is already one of just nine states with multiple legal online sportsbooks. The eye-opening launch week and the potential for more top online sports betting options has stakeholders optimistic about more big revenue weeks ahead.

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