Tennessee Tops $200M in March Sports Betting


The Tennessee sports betting market was expected to bounce back in March, and that is exactly what happened. The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) recently announced that the March sports betting handle was $205.9 million.

The strong month of March represented an increase of nearly $30 million from the disappointing total posted in February. The March sports betting handle fell just shy of the record $211.3 million brought in during January 2021.

The entire US sports betting industry has seen a jump in the March numbers thanks to the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Despite the Super Bowl being played in February, it was a rough month for most states in terms of sports betting handle. ncaa300

Tennessee collected $3.2 million in privilege tax from online sportsbooks in March, a growth of 23.1%. An increase in total sports betting handle is important, but the amount of tax dollars is the most significant to the state.

Sportsbooks had an adjusted gross income of $16.1 million for March after having a disappointing February. There is no guarantee that these numbers will continue to climb in the coming months, but it’s been an excellent start for the Tennessee market. 

March Saw Two New Options

March Madness had the most significant impact on the month’s sports betting numbers, but the state also saw two new online betting options launch as well. William Hill launched online sports betting on March 11, and it is one of the biggest names in the US sports betting industry.

TwinSpires, the new brand from Churchill Downs Inc., launched sports betting on March 19. Both sportsbooks were live for the entire NCAA Tournament, helping each sportsbook get off to a strong start during March. 

Problems Have Emerged

Despite the state continuing to post solid sports betting numbers, numerous issues have emerged. Action 24/7 Sportsbook and William Hill Sportsbook have both done things to draw ire from the TEL and other lawmakers.

Action 24/7 actually had its sports betting license suspended for a period of time after allowing several illegal actions to take place. A judge lifted that suspension with an injunction, but discussions are still ongoing about what to do with the local operator. 

William Hill offered a prop bet on a college sporting event, which is illegal according to the current sport betting rules. William Hill quickly removed the prop bet, but an investigation has been launched. 

Changes to Regulatory Body?

There is a growing group of legislators that are unhappy with how the Tennessee Education Lottery has dealt with the sports betting industry since November. This group was put in charge as the regulatory body, but it has already had some issues in delivering punishments to sportsbooks.

A bill was introduced looking to remove the power from the TEL as the regulatory body and put the Sports Wagering Advisory Council in charge. Both groups already work together, but this would change the power of order over sports betting. It will be interesting to see if this bill or similar legislation gains traction in the coming months.