Tennessee is poised to join the legal sports betting market but is taking its time in terms of selecting potential vendors. The state will be the only one offering legal sports wagers without any physical sportsbooks by legalizing mobile-only sports betting.
Tennessee Making Progress Toward Picking Vendors
It is unusual for a state to outsource the vetting of potential vendors but that is exactly how Tennessee is choosing to proceed. The cautions approach is understandable since they will be the first state to have mobile-only sports betting. On top of that, there are no casinos or gaming in Tennessee outside of the lottery, so this is brand new territory on many levels. That said, it's just a matter of time before some of the biggest companies in the business who are already operating in other states coming knocking.
With almost 85% New Jersey's sports wagers coming via a mobile device, one would imagine the same vendors in that state have an eye on what's going on in Tennessee. With many of the same geographical advantages that New Jersey has in the north east (New York does not offer mobile/online wagering), Tennessee has the opportunity to cash in big while their neighboring states in the south still deliberate on the subject of legal sports betting.
Tennessee Shares a Border with Eight States
Of the eight states that share a border with Tennessee, only two (Mississippi and Arkansas) have legal sports betting. Neither state offers mobile betting and are not tourist destinations in the way that Tennessee has always been. There are tens of millions of potential customers all around Tennessee from out of state, not to mention they are in the heart of SEC country.
It is legal to bet on college sports in Tennessee and that alone has serious economic potential with so many SEC rivals unable to do so all around them. While the potential for a lot of out of state revenue exists, Tennessee's strong sports market will give locals the chance to bet on their favorite teams as well. Tennessee has teams in three of the four major sports leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL) in the country. With a population twice the size of Nevada's, the money making potential is there for all to see.
Buffalo Wild Wings Among Potential Vendors
A few weeks ago, MGM Resorts International and Buffalo Wild Wings became partners in a deal that could see the sports bar franchise become a leader in mobile gaming. It appears that MGM intends to offer mobile sports betting inside Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants through their BetMGM app.
It would seem like a logical place to start for Tennessee considering they don't have any casinos. The issue of how Buffalo Wild Wings would stop customers from logging into a competitor's website is a little bit trickier. That being said, local geofencing for their vendors is not Tennessee's concern as long as the online wagers take place within state lines. As cautious as they have been since the law was passed in July, having a company the size of Buffalo Wild
Wings that already has eight locations in the state seems like a logical move. The fact that they have partnered up with a casino giant like MGM Resorts International makes them one of the most attractive potential vendors.
Tennessee Could Be an Example for Neighbors
It won't be long before more of Tennessee's neighbors join the legal sports gambling business. Until then, Tennessee could be the very example they use to push potential bills forward. It is estimated that upward of $50 million in tax revenue will be generated each year for the state of Tennessee. That money will be set aside to fund educational programs, local government infrastructure projects and mental health services that include gambling addiction treatment. At some point in 2020, Tennessee will become the legal sports betting epicenter of the South.