You wouldn’t think it, but the next big explosion for sports betting could happen in Tennessee. We know and have known that a state like Illinois, which went live with sports betting in March 2020, was going to be a booming locale for betting with a major city like Chicago. That comes as no surprise and the projections for Illinois have always been off the charts.
But, Tennessee. That could be where it’s at. The Volunteer State is expected to go live with sports betting in Q2 or Q3 of 2020, but that isn’t the surprising part. The surprising part is that Tennessee actually has no casinos or land-based gaming establishments. So how is this all possible?
Tennessee is going to be an online-only state. The Tennessee State Lottery is going to be responsible for whatever transpires within the state, but we have a great chance at seeing a very competitive market. Of course, there is always the fear that we do not and run into a situation like New Hampshire, where the state lottery oversees sports gambling, but has an exclusive contract with DraftKings.
If Tennessee does not go that route, this could be an extremely competitive state, surrounded on all sides with parties interested in betting, and very limited restrictions. Something like in-person registration, which we see in Iowa and Illinois, will not be on the table. With no additional gaming dollars being thrown around with slot machines or table games, those with the itch in Tennessee will only have sports to wager on.
This is a state to watch very, very closely and one that could provide a lot of opportunity and could end up with a massive handle.
How Do I Bet on Sports in Tennessee?
Right now, you don’t, but it is coming and it is coming fast. The likeliest start date for Tennessee is sometime in the summer of 2020, but everything should be up and running in time for the college football and NFL seasons. HB1, the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, was signed into law July 1, 2019.
It is entirely possible that all of the heavy hitters get a stake in Tennessee. We’ll have to see how the agreements play out between the operators and the Tennessee State Lottery Corporation, but FanDuel, DraftKings, PointsBet, BetMGM, William Hill, BetAmerica, 888sport, and several others could attempt to set up shop.
There are so many things that make Tennessee an attractive market. There are very few tourist destinations around the United States as popular as Nashville. That brings in visitors from all states and they come for sporting events, like Titans games, Predators games, the SEC Conference Tournament in college basketball, college football games at Vanderbilt, basketball games at Belmont and Vanderbilt, and other places. Not to mention, Memphis and Knoxville are also two popular sports viewing destinations.
Memphis and Knoxville are also border towns. Memphis is right near Arkansas and Mississippi, which both have sports betting, but in retail form only. Knoxville is close enough to Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina to be considered a border town.
Nashville is in the heart of the state, but a popular destination from all over the world, quite frankly, but especially from Tennessee and Alabama right off of I-65.
Because Tennessee does not have retail gaming locations, everything is going to be mobile or online. That makes it so easy for so many people to get involved in the Volunteer State and for those in border states or those that are making the pilgrimage to the Music City eligible to bet with minimal effort.
This has the potential to be a serious financial windfall for the state of Tennessee and a great state of opportunity for bettors. Keep a very close watch on Tennessee because a lot of the heavy hitters could be setting up shop as soon as this summer, particularly those that have a big background in online-only operations like DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet.
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