Beyond All Predictions, Tennessee Achieves Record-Breaking Sports Wagering December

  • Tennessee’s two-month handle of $312.3 was the “best start” for any US state in history
  • Questions remain whether the unique 10% hold rule will have an eventual effect on bettors
  • No in-person signups, little nearby competition, & lingering hold of COVID-19 key factors

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Many questions surrounded the introduction of legalized sports wagering in Tennessee. Perhaps a few have been answered by initial rousing success numbers that have been recorded in only two brief months of operation.

Tennessee’s online sportsbooks reached $180 million in handle for December 2020, thus recording the best two-month debut in US sports betting history.

An untested market with confident potential before launching in November, Tennessee’s beginning launch is outdoing all predictions.

Adding to the accomplishment versus their first month in November, the month of December offers four NFL Sundays compared to five in the previous month. In December, Tennessee’s sports wagering handle was $180.9 million compared to $131.4 in November. December produced revenue of $13.9 for licensed operators and $3.1 for the state of Tennessee.

Over two months Tennessee generated $312.3 million in bets, by far the most of any legal sports betting jurisdiction in US history. The next closest achievement was Indiana, which produced $126.9 million.

One likely factor is more new accounts continued to flow in during the second month of operation along with positive momentum from the first month of existence. Also, the NBA and NHL also beginning to contribute action.

Still, questions will be tied to whether Tennessee’s large 10% hold rule will have an eventual effect on bettors, tempting them to hold onto their illegal offshore sports wagering accounts. And can the Tennessee Education Lottery regulate the industry in their new role? More of these questions would likely be better answered after six or twelve months of results, rather than evaluating a brief two.

Other Reasons for Tennessee’s Hot Start

Tennessee was rather unique in comparison with other US states in choosing to only offer online sports wagering. They benefitted from timing due to the circumstances involving the continuing effects of COVID-19. As other more established sports wagering states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have discovered, online has dominated. In December, online accounted for almost 88% of the handle. New Jersey, like other states, has struggled with casino closures and rules for limited attendance.

Another strong advantage for bettors was no in-person registration required for signing up to participate in online wagering. An unpopular rule requirement that has been either amended or completed eliminated by several other states including Illinois.

None of the seven states that border Tennessee offers online wagering added to the convenience. Only Arkansas and Mississippi, which are not generally close offer any onsite wagering. Perhaps Virginia now starting up live might offer some minor competition but nothing that should have a dramatic effect on upcoming January or February results.

Scanning the Future

Tennessee is currently the US seventh-ranked sports wagering market with the potential to move into possibly sixth with continuing progress. Four sportsbooks are in operation including industry leaders DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM. With demand increasing more are expected to join them includingTwinSpires, WynnBET, William Hill.

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Larry Gibbs

Expert on Sports Betting Industry

Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.

Email: [email protected]