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Tennessee Approves Sportsbook Operators for Start of Online Wagering

Three sportsbook firms in Tennessee have a green light to start accepting bets when wagering begins in the state next month.

Three sportsbook firms have been approved to take bets in Tennessee. Meanwhile, the NFL’s Titans are rescheduling at least one game because of COVID-19 infections on the team. (Image: Boston Globe)

The Tennessee Lottery Sports Wagering Committee recently approved conditional licenses for FanDuel, BetMGM, and DraftKings, according to the Associated Press.

Tennessee, which has no casinos, is set to begin allowing online-only sports wagering on Nov. 1.

The lottery panel is scheduled to meet on Oct. 5 and Oct. 16 to consider additional sportsbook licensees. Tennessee has no limit on the number of sportsbook operators that can be licensed in the state, the AP reported.

In April, legislators approved online sports betting in Tennessee for people 21 and older who are placing wagers within the state’s borders. The bill became law without a signature from Gov. Bill Lee (R). The governor said he was concerned about the expansion of gambling in the state.

COVID-19 Slams Titans

This week, the Tennessee Titans reached a deal with BetMGM to become the team’s official betting partner.

The partnership gives BetMGM branding rights on the stadium’s video board during replays and field goal attempts, according to the Nashville Post. The National Football League’s Titans play at Nissan Stadium, located across the Cumberland River from downtown Nashville, the state’s capital.

BetMGM also gets naming rights for the Titans’ television studio at Saint Thomas Sports Park, where the team’s corporate offices and practices facilities are located.

Meanwhile, at least seven Titans and six others in the organization have tested positive for COVID-19, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 3-0 Titans, who lead the AFC South, had been scheduled to play at home Oct. 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers lead the AFC North and also are 3-0.

That game has been postponed and will be rescheduled. The Titans’ next scheduled game is at home on Oct. 11 against the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills, who are 3-0.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the players were “somewhat shocked” about the cancellation this weekend because they were ready to play, according to the team’s website.

However, the players understood the situation and will “handle this like they handle everything else,” he said.

“I told (the players) to try to mentally recover from an emotional few days so that we can proceed with our season and build on a 3-0 start – that was my message to them,” Vrabel said.

Sports Betting Boom

After sporting events at every level were halted in March at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, sports betting fell into a tailspin. However, three major US sports leagues — basketball, baseball, and ice hockey — resumed play in the summer. College and professional football teams also have begun playing again.

This increase in sporting activity has led to a boom in sports betting in many places, including Arkansas and Colorado. Sports wagering is legal in 18 states.

Sports betting is expected to generate interest in Tennessee. The state is home to two major professional teams, the NFL’s Titans and the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators. In addition, two college teams in Tennessee, the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville and the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, compete in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference.

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