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Tennessee Sports Betting: Online Sportsbooks & Apps [Updated September 24, 2020]
Fully mobile-focused and online, Tennessee’s sports betting set up is the opposite of what many states have passed in the newly-legalizing United States market. But Tennessee has imposed a mandatory 10% hold, meaning bettors will be paying more juice on every bet than they would with an offshore sports book, or in another legal state like New Jersey or Nevada. The hold structure creates a problem: existing bettors may continue wagering illegally and new bettors may be be less drawn in to sports betting with reduced payouts.
Tennessee said it reserves the right to revisit these rules after one year of operating. So the state market could become more consumer-friendly before the 2021 football season, but there’s no guarantee. With the economic downturn from COVID-19, however, the state may be more likely to revise its sports betting policy to aid in recovery.
In Tennessee, there will be both “operators” and “vendors” that help facilitate sports betting. To date, no operators have been formally approved, but per the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, four marketing affiliates are approved and ready to roll. As of late August, the lack of known, officially approved operators looks like it will delay the much anticipated September 1 launch until November.
Despite delays and restrictive rules in place, we anticipate big operators will be in Tennessee. DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM have all been approved by the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation to operate online in the ‘Big Bend’ state starting on November 1:
“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 sports book to sports fans in Tennessee,” DraftKings’ Chief Compliance Officer Tim Dent told Gambling.com.
Even with a high hold, Tennesseans can have great fun and profit if they're savvy and sign up for multiple sportsbook apps. Here are some sports betting sites and apps that are expected to launch on November 1 and others that could be coming to Tennessee later in 2020 or early in 2021:
How Tennessee Sports Betting Compares
Whether you're a Knoxville local, a Chattanooga transplant, or just visiting Nashville for a weekend--there's good and bad to Tennessee's online sports betting bill. Here's how it lines up vs. other states in the US:
Tennessee got two major points right with its bill — fully online betting and depositing — but limited the benefits of both with mandatory hold pricing. Local bettors should look into line shopping to help even things out across several books.Some who bet offshore pre-legalization may still consider local, under-the-table TN bookies and offshore websites offering more favorable odds. Additionally, some in-state sports fans may travel to bordering bettor-friendly states instead: tracks or casinos in neighboring West Memphis, Arkansas, and Tunica, Mississippi, where sportsbooks offer higher payout rates. Tennessee may unnecessarily lose money to legal and illegal options alike until the hold is addressed. In the meantime, however, there's still plenty of fun and money for sports bettors to get in on.
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, particularly in the current pandemic, and it’s the preferred method for bettors.
More than 80% of the betting handle in New Jersey is generated online. Further, NJ has amassed $62.6 million in tax revenue over the last 24 months. It’s nice to see a state with such loyal college fans have the option to bet on their teams.
With no in-person casinos, Tennessee bettors should be able to register and deposit online with ease. Eliminating in-person sign-ups and deposits is a huge benefit to operators and bettors, who may be more willing to use multiple sportsbooks because of increased convenience--and they would be wise to.
Local bettors can sign up from a local sports bar in Memphis in real-time during a game, and another from the comfort of their couch at home in Chattanooga.
Fair Pricing: C
Tennessee got the first two steps right. Then, there were major missteps for pricing. The 10% mandatory hold on each bet will force operators to pass costs onto the consumer. There won’t be a legal book that comes in and undercuts the market, either, due to reduced incentive and upside.
What does this mean for the sports bettor? Instead of betting an NFL point spread on the Titans at -110, you’ll be betting at -120 or worse. It’s already challenging to make money in sports betting. Due to legislative choices, anyone betting in Tennessee has the odds stacked against them to some extent.
Sport Offerings: B
We don’t know exactly what sports will be offered as betting options in Tennessee, but bettors can wager on college teams in the state like the Tennessee Volunteers’ Football team or the Memphis Tigers Women’s Basketball squad. In some other states, wagering on college teams in the state is prohibited entirely.
Tennessee won’t have live betting on college teams, which is unfortunate. Additionally, the a requirement for a TN sportsbook to buy official league data to offer any live betting may limit what’s available in the Tennessee sports betting market due to cost and availability.
The 10% Hold, Explained
Tennessee’s sports betting rules and regulations are tough for both bettors and sportsbooks. 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 are required to pay a much steeper cut to operators than what you see in other states legally, and certainly steeper than risky, illegal options.
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 notable 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 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
- Unfair one-way markets
The revenue generated from Tennessee's hold is to be allocated as follows: 40% for general appropriations by the general assembly; 30% to local colleges; and 30% to each local government for their school system and infrastructure projects.
While these allocations had direct community benefits, some disagreement within the Tennessee Lottery itself about whether or not a mandatory hold is the right policy move emerged.
As of the end of June 2020, though, Jennifer Roberts has left TN’s Lottery with less than one year of tenure for a job in the private sector. The departure of a highly qualified gambling executive brought on to launch sportsbetting isn’t exactly a vote of confidence in the state’s plan.
“The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation’s Board of Directors reserves the right to determine the consequences of the 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 to The Action Network.
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 legal states).
The lottery’s Sports Betting Director at the time, Jennifer Roberts, wanted no cap so the state can be “fully competitive with the illegal market.”
A study on the “Economic Impact of Legalized Sports Betting” projected nearly 300 million dollars in gaming revenue potential annually for Tennessee in a mature market -- but only if it made betting accessible with bettor-friendly offerings. The hold may mean fewer legal sports bets are placed for the state to profit from, falling short of its achievable upside.
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 player props. Yikes.
We’re hoping the anticipated 2021 revisions help clean some of this up for sports fans in the state.
We can’t hammer it home enough: the mandatory 10% hold is unfair to bettors.
It will prevent the state from generating maximum revenue because a share of 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 like some of its European counterparts. In Tennessee, unfortunately for local bettors, they succeeded.
The high barrier to entry for operators ($750,000 yearly fee, 20% tax rate -- more here) raises concerns that many from local businesses will not be able to enter the market because of the steep price tag. During committee hearings, this approach was an area House bill critics were most vocal about.
Lastly, the requirement for operators to buy official league data to provide live betting is a disappointment because it will restrict the breadth of market offerings. The leagues, in official partnership with services like Sportsradar, have been pushing for this as new states come online.
Tennessee Sports Betting FAQ
Is Online sports betting legal in Tennessee?
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 November 1.
Is Bovada legal In Tennessee?
How old do I have to be to bet?
Where can I bet on sports in Tennessee?
Who can apply for a Tennessee sports betting license?
Are any sports off limits?
What types of bets can I place in Tennessee?
Collegiate prop bets are banned, but not much else. We expect this means these popular bet types will be available in Tennessee:
- Moneylines: A moneyline in American odds is centered around winning or wagering $100 on a given bet. Here's a guide on how to place moneyline bets.
- Parlays: A parlay is a wager type in which several bets are linked together with a greater potential payout. Here's a 101 on parlay betting and a calculator.
- Props: A prop bet is a wager that is not directly tied to the final score or final outcome of a game. It’s short for “proposition bet.” Check out our guide on prop betting.
- Futures: A futures bet is a bet on an event that will be decided in the future. Want to learn more? Check out our educational guide.
- Spreads: A point spread is a bet on the margin of victory in a given game, favoring the stronger team. Here are the details on spread betting.
- Totals: A total, also referred to as an over/under, is a bet on the number of points both teams will combine to score in a game. Learn more.
Sports Betting for TN Beginners
New to sports betting? Check out our 11 sports betting tips for beginners so you can get started placing bets, 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 responsible if you're going to sustain in the sports betting world.
Here are nine mistakes to avoid.
Tennessee Sports Betting Timeline
Tennessee Teams to Bet on
Tennessee’s orange-blooded Vols fans have a history of rivalries, some more notorious than others. We expect big college football bets to be placed on these Tennessee games now that sports betting is legal! If played as scheduled in 2020, these games will be local:
Tennessee Volunteers Football
Tenessee Volunteers Rivalry #1: vs. The Alabama Crimson Tide. This annual rivarly game is referred to as the "Third Saturday in October.” This year, it's slotted for October 24 (Saturday) @ Neyland Stadium.
Tenessee Volunteers Rivalry #2: vs The Florida Gators. This game is currently scheduled for December 5 (Saturday), 2020 @ Neyland Stadium.
We've got a few recommended resources to help you bet smart on CFB in Tennessee:
Tennessee Volunteers Rivalry #1: vs. The Kentucky Wildcats. Even though Kentucky has dominated this rivalry with Tennessee overall, the schools have played each other since 1910, and the Vols have more wins against the Wildcats than other other team as well.
We've got a few recommended resources to help you bet smart on CBB in Tennessee:
Division I Football & Basketball
Division I Basketball Only
Pro Sports Teams
Although states don't need their own professional team to have a strong sport-specific market, it certainly can help momentum and engagement! Because of legal mobile betting, Tennessee bettors can attend pro games and bet and monitor in real time when watching their favorite teams.
Tennessee has three pro teams housed in the immediate downtown Nashville area that attract sports bettor attention.
NFL Betting in Tennessee
The Tennessee Titans (Football). The Titans call Nissan Stadium home--a modern stadium equipped with nearly 70,000 seats and even party suites. If you're interested in betting on the Titans, we recommend taking a look at their 2019 record ahead of time. Additionally, you can check out our ongoing NFL insights and analysis to bet smart. As we draw closer to the 2020-2021 season, recent buzz from the Titans Training Camp centers around the competition for the backup quarterback positition behind Ryan Tannehill. All signs look to poise Tennessee's NFL Sports betting market for a strong open. Need friends to bet with when it does? The Titans have a highly engaged fan base--join the discussion on the GoTitans forum.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet on Football Guide
MLS Betting in Tennessee
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Soccer Guide
NHL Betting in Tennessee
The Nashville Predators (Hockey) play downtown at Bridgestone Arena.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Hockey Guide
NBA Betting in Tennessee
The Memphis Grizzlies (Basketball), the state's fourth professional team, play at FedExForum in downtown Memphis at the heart of the city's Beale Street Entertainment District. Bullish on the Grizzlies? The Western Conference looks strong and so does the NBA betting market in TN.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Basketball Guide
MLB Betting in Tennessee
There is no Tennessee pro baseball team, but there's still going to be a baseball betting market available. In the meantime, you can check out our baseball betting 'how tos.'
Recommended Resource: How to Bet on Baseball Guide
We're looking forward to Tennessee sports returning--and sports betting kicking off in full force.
Other ‘Volunteer State’ Events
In addition to its traditional sporting events, Tennessee also draws fans out for races, tournaments, and more. This includes:
Bristol Motor Speedway hosts the 'Food City 500' each year. Food City is a growing grocery chain in the south, and the Food City 500 is a sponsored cornerstone event of NASCAR's Spring race weekend. It is also one of the most highly anticipated events on the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Bristol is in the northeastern tip of Tennessee, about 300 miles from Nashville.
Bridgestone Arena, a downtown Nashville multipurpose venue, will host the SEC Tournament each year through 2030 except 2022 when it heads to Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. Bridgestone and Nashville have the facilities and capacity to host additional marquee events when games, races, and more resume as COVID-19 settles.
More Reading on Tennessee
State TN Government Bills & Documentation. To dig deeper into the state legislation directly, you can check out the Tennessee House Bill (HB0001) or follow along chronologically in Tennessee’s Gaming Act Bill Timeline .
Tennessee Lottery Betting Rules. Read more on the Tennessee Sports Betting Rules and Regulations from the Tennessee Lottery.
Summary of Public Comments. TEL published a distilled version of the state's bill feedback in early 2020, highlighting common concerns, from advertising restrictions and and licensing fees to bet classifications and the infamous hold %.
Local Coverage on Sports Betting. For a local perspective, check out this article from Michael Nelson for The Daily Mempian: “Nelson: Sports betting is (finally, probably) coming to Tennessee. Let’s hope sports do, too”
Deeper Economic Analysis. To better understand the potential consequences of TN’s current sports betting bill, explore an Analysis of Tennessee’s Proposed Minimum Hold Requirement From Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, and this 2017 Oxford Economics Analysis on the “Economic Impact of Legalized Sports Betting“
The Tennessee Bar Weighs in. An in depth piece on the “Place Your Bets” Blog from the Tennessee Bar Association offers thorough coverage of legal details & evolution of Tennessee’s sports betting landscape.
Nashville Guru's Sportsbars. We listed a few of the popular local sportsbars mentioned by Nashville Guru--but there are plenty more! Check out their top 10 sportsbars list for a place to watch the game and get in on the action in Nashville.
If you're interested in TN Fantasy Gaming regulation, you can reference materials from Tennessee Secretary of State, Tre Hargett. Fantasy was legalized in 2016, far in advance of sports betting, and is controlled by Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming.
For more on U.S. Sportsbetting
You can check out the legal status of other states and learn more about legal sports betting here.