Tennessee Records 8% Increase in Sports Betting Handle

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A general view at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

The industry-wide trend of handle slowdowns in legal sports betting jurisdictions across the US was officially snapped Wednesday with news out of Tennessee that they posted an 8% increase in June from May. The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL), the body responsible for licensing and regulating online sports betting in the state reported a welcomed month-to-month handle increase after three months of decreases.

Tennessee, one of the few mobile-only US legal sports betting jurisdictions in the US market, was due for some good news after the last few months. June’s sports betting uptick comes a month after a May total that represented a low point for the market since launching in November.

Uptick in Numbers

By now, those that follow the US legal sports betting industry are getting used to seeing month-to-month handles in participating states fall, some by double-digits. Tennessee is offering a breath of fresh air with an increase in sports betting activity despite the relatively short summer betting menu. The Tennessee Education Lottery is reporting a $174.5 million June sports betting handle which is a rare 8% summer increase from the $160.9 million the state reported in May. The May handle was the lowest on record for the then, 7-month-old sports betting platform.

June’s handle was also up slightly from the $172.4 million in April but about $30 million off the record $209.5 million sportsbooks took in during March. Sports betting revenues for Tennessee came in at about $16 million for June, which contributed $3.2 million in taxes to needy state and local coffers. $2.7 million in taxes was paid by sportsbooks in May.

A Tennessee Market in Transition

Things are about to change in the Tennessee legal sports betting market, likely for the better. After months of regulating the platform, the Tennessee Education Lottery is about to relinquish control of sports betting to the Sports Wagering Advisory Council, which is seen as a more independent and traditional way of doing sports betting business.

The market is also about to add three more operators to the Volunteer State sports betting family. Sometime this week, those prospective operators will be notified of their successful application with the potential for them to be live soon, certainly by the start of the NFL season. The three lucky providers will be added to a market already housing WynnBET, the two DFS giants-turned sports betting provider behemoths, BetMGM, Action 24/7, TwinSpires and William Hill.

Sports Wagering Advisory Council

The Sports Wagering Advisory Council, the entity that will take over from the Tennessee Lottery still has some work to do before they are fully handed the reigns of the Volunteer State legal sports betting scene, but they seem ready to dive in. The Tennessee Lottery on the other hand looks ready to toss the hot potato.

Rules will likely change for the overall scene, including the mandatory 10% hold in the state and the way that licenses are handed out. The SWAC has been given until November to get that handled but will take over with existing rules until new ones are in place. In the end, the SWAC is a positive development to the Tennessee scene as it brings more accountability and a more traditional sense of how to successfully run a sports betting platform

So Far…

Despite the previously underwhelming Lottery-model the Tennessee legal sports lawmakers adopted, the controversial mandatory 10% hold required in the state, its industry-unfriendly 20% tax rate for legal sports betting and a forced temporary suspension of one of its sportsbooks, Action 24/7, the Tennessee industry has done well since launch in November.

Over $1.4 billion has been wagered in Tennessee since the kickoff of their legal sports betting scene with the best yet to come. More competition is about to arrive, and platform is about to experience its first full football season.The arrow on Tennessee, like other jurisdictions within the broader US legal sports betting industry, is pointing way up. It’s especially exciting in the Volunteer State, as one of the only jurisdictions in the market that saw an actual increase in betting activity in June.