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Tennessee Nears Record Sports Betting Handle in March

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Tennessee Nears Record Sports Betting Handle in March
Bristol Motor Speedway on March 29, 2021 in Bristol, Tennessee. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

The Tennessee legal sports betting market has been a nice surprise since launching on November 1. The nation’s only online-only sports betting platform has been churning out some impressive numbers and March’s take, despite a few hiccups within their close-knit legal betting family didn’t disappoint.

The Tennessee legal sports betting market saw a predictable bounce back from February’s dip in its sports betting figures. The fact that the NFL season came to an end early in the month, that there were only 28 days in February and one less weekend to place a bet negatively impacted the sports betting scene across the US, and Tennessee wasn’t immune.

A Peek at Tennessee’s March

The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) is reporting a $205.9 million March handle, thanks in large part to the lucrative March Madness tournament that made its triumphant return to the legal sports betting scene after a year off. March’s numbers represent a 16.8% increase from February’s $176.3 million, just off the record $211.3 million the state’s sportsbooks took in during January.

Gross payouts for Tennessee’s March mobile sports betting platform came in at $187.9 million, which also is an increase from the previous month – 15.1% or $24.6 million from the $163.3 million in February. Adjusted gross income resulted in $16.1 million in profits, a 23.6% increase from February.

Tennessee’s tax revenue take, in turn, was a respectable $3.2 million, a 23.1% spike from February when sportsbooks contributed $2.6 million to Tennessee state and local coffers.

Shrugging Off a Few Issues

There was some drama in the Tennessee legal sports betting industry in March. Regulators suspended one of its sportsbooks during the 31-day period and thus became the first jurisdiction in the US legal sports betting scene to be forced into such a decision.

Acton 24/7, one of the four original Tennessee sportsbooks to launch in November was suspended March 18 by the Tennessee Lottery because it apparently “failed to monitor and report substantial criminal activity on the site.” It is rumored that money laundering, fraud, and bettors using proxy accounts were by-products of Action 24/7’s transgressions.

A court ruling eventually reinstated Action 24/7’s ability to take bets March 26.

Another issue within the Tennessee sports betting scene came from one of their new providers, William Hill which launched March 11. It is alleged that William Hill went against state regulations and posted an illegal prop bet. William Hill eventually took down that bet.

The good news is that the mistakes resulted in the Tennessee Senate voting on some help for the Tennessee Education Lottery with oversight of its legal sports betting platform. SB 588 aims to help the Lottery regulate, discipline and make decisions on the platform through a nine-person Sports Wagering Advisory Committee. The Bill is off to the House for a vote some time this week.

Looking Ahead

With March Madness in the books, it would be easy to have a slightly pessimistic outlook for the Tennessee legal sports betting scene. But regulators and insiders are positive about the state’s sports betting potential.

The original four providers (BetMGM, the two DFS giants, and Tennessee Action 24/7) have officially been joined by William Hill which went live March 11 and TwinSpires which launched in Tennessee March 19. It gives the state a more competitive legal sports betting scene which has been positive for many participating jurisdictions.

With a full month of 6 quality providers competing for Tennessee gambling dollars, with baseball seemingly a popular bet in the state and with the NBA and NHL creeping closer to their playoff rounds, April will provide bettors a healthy wagering menu.

So far, the Tennessee legal sports betting platform has been a revelation for the state and March proved that it could withstand regulatory issues en route to decent numbers. The Tennessee market has withstood criticism about their Lottery model, about the fact that they have no retail sector and have even weathered criticism about the speed with which they rolled out their sports betting platform.

The Tennessee market is strong with little reason to think any downturn is imminent. April will be a test, but insiders are expecting Tennessee sportsbooks to pass that test with flying colors.