Live In Tennessee! It’s Sports Betting

Just after midnight local time Sunday morning, exactly 16 months after state-sanctioned sports betting became legal in Tennessee, BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel sportsbooks were live, meaning that three of four possible digital sports wagering platforms were up and running within an hour of being allowed to. At 8 a.m. Sunday morning, local entry Tennessee Acton 24/7 went live.

The Volunteer State became the 19th U.S. jurisdiction to introduce live, legal sports betting since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Action was overturned by the Supreme Court on May 14, 2018.

“We at DraftKings couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Tennessee sports betting landscape,” DraftKings Head of Sportsbook Johnny Avello told Sports Handle. “Tennesseans now gain the opportunity to wager on their favorite teams, as well as all other popular offerings on DraftKings’ extensive sports betting menu.”

The three national operators to launch on the first day were the same three that went live together on May 1 in Colorado. FanDuel planned to kick off the Tennessee era with a bet from former NFL star Eddie George, according to a company press release.

“We know how passionate sports fans in the state of Tennessee are and we are no different, but our true passion is all about our customers,” said Mike Raffensperger, CMO of FanDuel Group, via the press release. “We are excited to offer a sports betting app experience that brings fans closer to the game with a number of unique sports betting opportunities, promotions and offers right in the palm of their hands.”

Action 24/7 gets last-minute approval

Local operator Tennessee Action 24/7 was the fourth operator approved to go live — and the company didn’t get its go-live paperwork from the Tennessee Education Lottery until late Saturday. Tennessee Action 24/7 is the first local operator new to sports betting to launch live sports betting anywhere in the U.S.

Owner Tina Hodges said the first bet was from “Sam in Old Hickory on the hometown favorite,” and that “We are excited to be the only Tennessee-owned and operated licensed sportsbook.”

The only other similar operation in process is Handle 19, a privately owned retail sportsbook in Washington, D.C., that hopes to start taking sports bets by Thanksgiving. That company’s sports betting operator application is still under review by the D.C. Lottery.

BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel were live in multiple U.S. jurisdictions prior to the Tennessee launch — DraftKings now has live mobile platforms in nine states, FanDuel is live in eight, and BetMGM is live in seven.

TN customers ready for sports betting

Tennessee is the only U.S. jurisdiction to legalize digital-only sports betting. There are no retail casinos or sportsbooks in the state, and there are no plans to add any. Bettors are able to wager on professional and college sports, the Olympics, and eSports. The only exception is a prop bets for college sports.

If social media is any indication, consumers in Tennessee have been anxiously awaiting the Tennessee launch. And on Saturday night, many could barely contain their enthusiasm:

All four companies offered unique Tennessee specials ahead of Sunday’s NFL Tennessee Titans-Cincinnati Bengals noon C.T. kick off. Apps for the three national operators are to be available for iOS and Android.

“We’ve been eagerly working with regulators in Tennessee to make this momentous launch a possibility and look forward to introducing the state’s passionate fan bases to the excitement of betting on sports with BetMGM,” said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt via press release ahead of the launch.

Early on, odds look better than expected

One looming question in Tennessee is what the odds would look like due to the 90% payout cap imposed by the Lottery, but early on, at least some bettors found lines to be competitive.

The payout cap means that operators must hold 10% of handle, which is above the national average for hold, in order to ensure that the Lottery, and in turn, the state, would bring in the most revenue possible. Tennessee is the only U.S. jurisdiction in which there is a cap, though it has been discussed in other jurisdictions. Operators who don’t adhere to the cap must pay a fine, according the TEL regulations.

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