Tennessee Sports Betting Sets New Low in July

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Tennessee Titans. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

July is turning out to be an awful month for sportsbooks across the United States with the state of Tennessee being the latest to report a significant downturn in their legal sports betting activity. In fact, the Volunteer State sportsbooks just experienced their worst performance since the platform was launched in November 2020.

There isn’t a ton of shame being felt by Tennessee sportsbooks. Every jurisdiction that has reported their July handles and revenues so far has revealed major decreases. The Volunteer State will likely have to suffer through one more disappointing month before September brings a significant bounce back for the industry.

“Even with the NBA Finals and the Olympics this July, there wasn’t nearly as much to engage casual bettors as most any other month of the year,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for the PlayUSA.com network, which includes PlayTenn.com. “But sportsbooks should quickly erase any declines as those casual bettors return home from summer vacations in August and then begin to turn their attention to football.”

July’s Figures

Tennessee sportsbooks reported their second straight month of significant sports betting declines, both in their overall handle and revenues. A total of $144.6 million was taken in by the state’s sportsbooks in July – a 17.2% drop from the $174.5 million reported in June. The $144.6 million represents the lowest total since the $131.4 million handle during November 2020 – the first month of legal sports betting in the Volunteer State.

Revenues unfortunately followed the state’s handle down the rabbit hole. Revenues for the state’s sportsbooks came in at $15.2 million in July, a 17.1% drop from the $18.3 sports betting providers made in the state during June. $2.6 million in tax revenue was made for state and local coffers in July off the $13.4 million in Tennessee sports betting taxable revenues. The hold rate was still a reasonable 8.9%.

Light at the End of a Tunnel

Summer has been like a tunnel for Tennessee sportsbooks. But through it all, the state looks as though it came through the seasonal summer sports betting slowdown in OK shape. This despite a 2021 handle-low in July and the extended slump. “All in all, the summer has gone well for Tennessee’s sportsbooks,” said Nicole Russo, analyst for PlayTenn.com. “An increased win percentage for sportsbooks has helped make up for the loss of volume. In the slower months that’s exactly what operators are hoping to see.”

Some more positive news for the Tennessee sports betting scene comes in the form of the new competition that is slated to come into the market before the start of the NFL season September 9. Tennessee Education Lottery has hinted at two new licenses being rewarded, as early as next Tuesday. Barstool Sportsbook is expected to be one of the lucky providers to grace the Tennessee market while the other is still up for grabs.

Tennessee Scene Could Look a Little Different

With the change of season and the change in fortune for the Tennessee sports betting scene will come a change in what the overall platform will look like. Most importantly, the Sports Wagering Advisory Council, which has been in charge if Tennessee’s somewhat controversial rollout is about to take over from the Tennessee Education Lottery in regulating the platform.

The search for an Executive Director for the TEL could also bring a different look to the Tennessee sports betting scene. There are a rumored 50 qualified applicants in the running – each with their own spin on what the Tennessee industry should look like going forward. The new director will likely be the one that finally addresses Tennessee’s controversial mandatory 10% hold rate. A potential change in that rate alone will likely bring a bit more competition into the market and make for a more even playing field going forward.

Heading Into the Fall

Just like all other jurisdictions in the US legal sports betting industry, sportsbooks in Tennessee are looking toward September and the start of both the NFL and College Football seasons. The fall will also bring the start of the NBA and NHL campaigns. At that time, the Tennessee Titans, the Memphis Grizzlies and Nashville Predators will be part of an enormous betting menu for Tennessee sportsbooks.

The summer was rough for Tennessee sportsbooks, but the fall should allow the state’s industry to immediately approach and even smash monthly handle records. They will have to endure what is sure to be a disappointing August but after that, the sky is the limit for the Tennessee sports betting scene.