Tennessee becomes quickest state to reach $1 billion in lifetime sports bets

Betting volume drops in April as slower summer season approaches, but state reaches historic milestone in sixth month of sports betting, according to PlayTenn

LAS VEGAS — Tennessee sportsbooks have now collected more than $1 billion in wagers since the industry launched in November, even as wagers expectedly declined in April. Now with $1.1 billion in six months, the Volunteer State became the quickest legal sports jurisdiction to reach the $1 billion milestone in U.S. history, according to PlayTenn, which tracks the Tennessee gaming market.

“With an online-only launch during the NFL season and at the beginning of a month, Tennessee kicked off its sports betting industry under nearly perfect circumstances,” said Nicole Russo, analyst for PlayTenn.com. “The circumstances gave the state a leg up, but Tennessee has still outperformed its expectations. Few predicted just how quickly the Volunteer State, a state with no legal betting history, has embraced online sports betting.” 

Sportsbooks took in $172.4 million in wagers in April, according to data informally released during a conference call with state officials on Tuesday. That is down 16.3% from $205.9 million in March.

The month-over-month decline is expected, as sportsbooks transition to relying on regular season baseball and NBA basketball rather than the NFL and NCAA Tournament to drive bettor interest. But the action was still enough to yield $2.8 million in tax revenue, according to officials. At current tax rates, that means sportsbooks produced about $14 million in adjusted gross income, down from $16.1 million in March, according to PlayTenn.com.

With April’s bets, Tennessee sportsbooks have now generated $1.1 billion in wagers since November’s launch. That makes Tennessee the fastest to the mark, topping New Jersey, which reached $1 billion in its seventh month.

The growth hasn’t come without challenges, though. On Tuesday’s call, officials announced that The Sports Wagering Advisory Council will supplant the Tennessee Education Lottery in overseeing the sports betting industry.

“Tennessee has suffered some growing pains, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering how little experience the state had in regulating legal betting,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayTenn.com. “Despite the challenges, the foundation is set for what should be a long period of growth. Ideally, the change in oversight will help the market further flourish.”

During the call officials also announced that four new betting operators have applications pending. BetMGM has led the Tennessee market for all of 2021, but FanDuel and DraftKings are not far behind, according to PlayTenn.

But new operators will continue to put pressure on the leaders, as each continues to jockey for market supremacy.

“The Tennessee market is still a long way from maturity,” Russo said. “New operators will help keep the market fresh and growing, while the dominant players continue to reach new customers. The bottom line is that Tennessee is nowhere near its ceiling yet.”

For more information and analysis on regulated sports betting in Tennessee, visit PlayTenn.com/news.

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