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Since the summer of 2018, legal sports betting is sweeping the U.S. with over thirty states and D.C. now with some form of it for their residents, and for those wondering why it might be worth it for the remaining states to launch such a market, take a good look at Tennessee.
The Volunteer State launched its own legal online sports betting market back in November 2020, but they do not allow residents to place bets in person anywhere, one of the few U.S. markets to not offer both a mobile and retail option for bettors to choose from.
Despite no in person sports gambling, Tennessee’s legal sports betting market has generated an almost $5 billion handle since launching, which equates to $421 million in revenue which when taxed brought in over $70 million extra dollars for the state.
That sports betting tax revenue helps support education in Tennessee by funding scholarships and after-school programs according to state records, a necessary income stream at a time when all states are still recovering from the financial hit they took from the worldwide pandemic.
Despite being in the middle of ‘flyover country,’ Tennessee is home to three professional sports franchises, the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, the NHL’s Nashville Predators, and NFL’s Tennessee Titans, more pro teams than some states with larger population or geography.
The NBA’s Memphis (formerly Vancouver) Grizzlies have been around since 1995, and since they moved to Tennessee they’ve been to the playoffs a dozen times though they have yet to win a league championship there after failing to get past the conference finals three times.
The NHL lives in Nashville in the form of the Predators, a team since 1998 that has been to the playoffs five times in the last six years that there was a postseason, their gold, navy blue colors becoming a favorite among Tennessee sports fans.
The NFL’s Tennessee Titans have been to the postseason the last four of five seasons, with HC Mike Vrabel responsible for three of those playoff visits, a team led by QB Ryan Tannehill who gets lots of help from RB Derrick Henry with no Super Bowl wins but two AFL Championships.
There is no in person sports betting in Tennessee, and neither is there casino gambling there – casinos are illegal within the state and the state constitution prohibits them – but that does not keep Volunteer State punters from seeking their own casino action by traveling.
They go to nearby Virginia where that activity has been made legal, or else they travel to North Carolina, Mississippi, or Arkansas, but they spend that casino betting money somewhere else, and right now because of those laws in Tennessee they are losing millions of dollars.
It’s the conundrum that comes with any major shift in how things are done – how far do state lawmakers want to go in Tennessee?
The good news is it’s the mobile sports betting market that seems to make the most money over retail versions elsewhere, but over time it will be interesting to see if Tennessee lawmakers move forward with in person betting the way so many other states have already done.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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