Four Tennessee Mobile Sportsbooks to Roll Out, With More Looking

Posted on: October 31, 2020, 12:46h. 

Last updated on: October 31, 2020, 06:16h.

A new state joins the sports betting fray this weekend, and Tennessee’s debut has been highly anticipated for nearly 18 months.

Tennessee sports betting
Tennessee Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove said Sunday’s scheduled launch of sports betting in the state represents a new stage for her organization. (Image: WCTE/YouTube)

According to the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp., wagering on sporting events can take place starting at 12:01 am CT on Sunday. It’s anticipated that at least three sportsbooks will be up and running that day. A lottery release indicated a fourth licensee is conducting field testing that’s supposed to be wrapped up on Saturday.

While the release didn’t indicate which three have completed the work, BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel have all issued releases stating they’ll be launching Sunday.

The fourth sportsbook is locally owned Tennessee Action 24/7. It posted Friday on Twitter that it also plans to be ready.

When those sportsbooks launch, Tennessee will become the 19th state, along with the District of Columbia, to be officially open. However, it’ll be the only state with just online apps.

This Sunday will represent the culmination of an enormous amount of work and due diligence to bring online-only sports wagering to Tennessee, the only state in the nation to do so,” Tennessee Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove said in a statement. “As the regulator, today also represents the beginning of a new stage, as we establish and support a responsible and competitive program here.”

Tennessee’s legislature passed its sports betting law during the 2019 session, with Gov. Bill Lee allowing it to go into law unsigned. Lottery officials have since worked on developing rules and regulations to oversee the activity.

Sportsbooks Offering Tennessee Sign-Up Specials

While Tennessee won’t be the first southern sports betting state – Mississippi and Arkansas beat them to that punch – the fact that the state is bigger – it’s population is roughly identical to Indiana – and allows online will make it intriguing to watch in the months ahead.

Not surprisingly, the sportsbooks are rolling out the Welcome Wagons to entice new customers in a greenfield market.

Over at BetMGM, the Roar Digital product has been offering a pre-launch special deposit match of up to $500, Elisa Richardson, Roar Digital’s public relations and communications director, told On Sunday, MGM will offer a couple “alternative” deals to new customers, a risk-free first bet of up to $500, and a special bet of $1 and get $100 in free bets if the NFL’s Tennessee Titans score a touchdown Sunday.

FanDuel and DraftKings are offering $50 sign-up bonuses prior to Sunday, with FanDuel also offering a risk-free first bet of up to $1,000. There’s no word yet if DraftKings will also offer a risk-free first bet or other offers.

Not to be outdone, Tennessee Action 24/7 is offering a $51 free bet for its enrollees.

Launching on a Sunday means the sportsbooks will miss out on SEC and other college football action Saturday. But bettors will still get a chance to place bets on NFL games this weekend.

Hold Requirement Not Deterring Interest

While there is a buzz building about Tennessee sports betting, there is also some controversy. Namely, the 10 percent hold requirement that the Lottery has implemented. That means sportsbooks will only be able to pay out 90 percent to winning players on an annual basis. Most US sportsbooks operate on a smaller percentage hold.

If they exceed that amount, licensees face a fine of up to $25,000. However, the Lottery board does have the power to impose added sanctions if it deems them necessary.

Those curious will be watching the odds as they’re rolled out Sunday to see if the sportsbooks offer standard -110 odds, which entails a lower hold threshold. The sportsbooks can always look to make up the margin on moneylines or other types of sports bets, including futures wagers and in-game bets.

And even before the first bet is made early Sunday morning, there’s already other sportsbooks clamoring to join the first four. The Associated Press has reported that William Hill, Wynn Resort, and Churchill Downs’ BetAmerica have also applied for licenses.

Approved sportsbooks will pay the lottery an annual fee of $750,000 to maintain their license. They will also pay a “privilege tax” to the state of 20 percent adjusted gross income.