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Tennessee Sports Betting

Tennessee residents, get those mobile devices ready. Sports betting is officially live in the Volunteer State. Soon sports fans can now use their smartphones to place wagers on their favorite sports from anywhere across the state.

When is sports betting starting in Tennessee?

Online sports betting launched in Tennessee just after midnight on Nov. 1, 2020. DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel all launched around the midnight hour, with Action 24/7 launching a few hours behind.

Sports betting officially became legal in Tennessee on July 1, 2019. The Tennessee Education Lottery oversees sports betting, and starting reviewing the first round of applications in 2020.

The first four sportsbooks are live, with more operators already starting the application process to come to the state. There is no limit on the number of sportsbooks that can be in Tennessee.

How to download a Tennessee sports betting app

Unlike other states, Tennessee has legalized online sportsbooks only. Without any casinos in the state, there will be no “brick-and-mortar” retail sportsbooks in TN unless further legislation were to pass.

Now that sports betting is underway in the Volunteer State, we can walk you through the steps for downloading a sports betting app to your mobile device. 

The first step will be to find the sportsbooks you want to try. Look for an offer that appeals to you, and take note of any promotional code that might apply to your chosen sportsbook. Then, click the “Play Now” button to visit the site.

Once there, you will need to find the logo for your style of mobile device. Almost every sportsbook will have options for both Apple and Android users.

iPhone and iPad users who press the button will be whisked to the app’s download page. Click the word “Get” to begin the download, and the download and installation should proceed like any other native app.

Android users will need to set their phones to allow for downloads from unknown sources before visiting the download page. Google does not allow gambling apps in the Google Play Store, so you will have to download the .apk file directly to your device.

The download may cause your phone to ask for a confirmation and/or override. Since you know that the download’s source is safe, click “OK” to proceed.

From that point, the download and installation should progress as they normally do.

Once you’ve downloaded your apps, proceed to the registration page. There should be a button in the top right-hand corner of the app’s display to that effect.

If you already have a daily fantasy sports or sports betting account with DraftKings or FanDuel, you will not need to register for a new account. Use your same credentials to log in to the sportsbook. The app will verify you are in the state of Tennessee before you can proceed to place a bet.

For the other apps, or if you are a new user, you will need to create a username and password. Once your account is set up and you have created your login credentials, all that is left is to fund your account and make a wager. Look for a spot on the app that says “Cashier” or “Deposit Now” in order to add funds.

Online sportsbooks have multiple ways to fund your account, including:

  • PayPal
  • ACH
  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • PayNearMe

Once your account is funded, look for a wager that you like, and place your bet.

How is any of this possible?

The Volunteer State has long been hostile to the notion of bringing new ways to risk money into its state lines. So for some, the passage of sports betting legislation came as a surprise.

However, after a contentious process through the Tennessee Legislature in early 2019, the heavily-amended SB 16 headed to the governor’s desk for his approval or veto. After Gov. Bill Lee declined to act either way, sports betting became the law of the land in Tennessee.

What is in the law?

As noted, Tennessee’s approach to sports betting is unique among states which have legalized the practice. Since there are no casinos or other viable locations in the state, legislators have taken the unusual step of only authorizing online sports betting.

To date, no other state that has legalized sports betting has neglected to create a retail component. However, given the success that online sports betting has found in places like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Tennessee may not end up missing the revenue from in-person betting.

Like many states, Tennessee has chosen to build out from its existing infrastructure to regulate sports betting in the state. So, the newly-created Sports Betting Board of the Tennessee Education Lottery will maintain jurisdiction over sports betting in the Volunteer State. The law has therefore given over a great new swath of power and revenue to its lottery commission.

Who is allowed to operate?

One of the more interesting parts of the law is the fact that it has set the stage for a completely wide-open market. There are no limitations on who can apply, so long as the operators get approved by the gaming board.

Of course, gaining that approval will not be easy. Only qualified applicants will have a shot of becoming Tennessee’s sports betting providers.

Applicants will also need to be clear of any kind of fraud or tax infractions. Truth be told, though, the field is fairly wide open for any interested company to apply, and Tennessee’s population will likely provide plenty of incentive for operators to throw their hats in the ring.

Those who are approved will have to pay $750,000 for their license. While that figure is not unduly high, it represents an amount ten times what the law’s original sponsors had in mind. The annual renewal fee thereafter is $750,000.

The mandated tax rate on the bill has also increased dramatically since its first mention. The final bill’s 20% demand on gross receipts is double what the initial proposition asked.

Lots to make the leagues happy

Of course, some of the provisions above are a bit cumbersome, but ultimately, no operator will likely hesitate about applying because of them. Unfortunately, the new law also features some more troubling flaws. Notably, the wrangling and lobbying that took place in early 2019 helped to create one of the most league-friendly sports betting laws of any state.

In fact, thanks to a Senate amendment to the bill, leagues have an unprecedented amount of veto power when it comes to allowing wagers upon their products. As stated in the bill, a league may request (in writing) that the gaming board prohibit types of wagering or types of bettors from betting if the league “believes that such wagering by type, form, or category is contrary to public policy, unfair to consumers, or affects the integrity of a particular sport or the sports betting industry.”

In other words, the leagues get the final say on who and what kind of betting will occur. 

The bill also restricts operators to only using official league data for in-play betting

Hold requirement

Another curious portion of the law is a 10% hold requirement placed on every operator. In other words, no operator in Tennessee would be able to pay out more than 90% of the total wagers it accepted.

Now, on its face, this provision seems like a win for the potential sportsbooks in the state. After all, it guarantees that they will enjoy a gross profit margin of at least 10%.

However, no state with sports betting has been able to hold such a high percentage on a consistent basis. Nevada, which is the most mature sports betting market in the country, typically holds between 5% and 6% each month.

One silver lining is that TN regulators ultimately backed off of requiring an even higher 15% hold requirement.

Thus, this kind of mandate could end up having the opposite effect of what is desired. Not only will sports bettors seek greener pastures, but it leaves the door open for black market sites to operate in Tennessee.

These kinds of requirements have also proven to be a classic example of “penny wise, pound foolish” lawmaking. As noted in a report by gambling analysts Eilers and Krejcik, other governments that have mandated a hold requirement ended up underperforming compared to their peers.

The bottom line is that distorting the market like this usually ends up shrinking the total pie. A smaller percentage of a much larger market could very easily end up being worth more to prospective operators in Tennessee.

Other provisions

The law allows betting on professional and collegiate sports, including betting on college teams from TN. 

No individual prop bets on college athletes are permitted, nor are bets on player injuries.

Likely operators

Some of these provisions might make it seem as though operators could decide to avoid the Volunteer State. Even though anyone can apply, the red tape and restrictions associated with the bill could understandably make operators gun shy.

However, the fact is that most operators are willing to jump over several hurdles if it means the debut of a new market. Tennessee’s population and lack of viable alternatives for gambling mean that there could be a large and passionate focus from the public on any sportsbook provider who launches there.

There is no limit to how many operators can apply for licensure in Tennessee. Here are some of the companies that have already received licenses to operate sportsbooks in Tennessee:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • BetMGM
  • Action 24/7

Both in-state operators, as well as global brands, have received licenses to operate sports betting beginning Nov. 1, 2020. Three more operators have applied for conditional licenses as well, although their names have not yet been released.

Nevertheless, Tennesseans can rest assured that they will have no shortage of options in the state before long.

Tennessee Sports Betting FAQ

Is sports betting legal in Tennessee?

Yes! By virtue of the passage of SB 16, sports betting is now legal in Tennessee.

Who can play?

Anyone over the age of 21 and physically inside the state of Tennessee can bet on sports.

Where can I bet on sports in Tennessee?

You can currently bet online with DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Action 24/7.

Where are retail sportsbooks going to be?

There will not be any retail sportsbooks in Tennessee. The new law only legalized sports betting through online services.

What online sportsbooks are there in Tennessee?

DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM, and Action 24/7 are now available in Tennessee.

Three more operators have applied for conditional licenses as well, although their names have not yet been released.

When will sports betting launch?

Legal sports betting officially launched on Nov. 1, 2020.

Do I have to have a smartphone or mobile device to wager?

You can bet on your smartphone or with your computer. While sports betting apps provide users with convenience when it comes to betting, you do not need one to legally wager in Tennessee.

Will I have to be inside Tennessee to play?

Yes. You must be physically located in the state of Tennessee to place a wager with a Tennessee online sportsbook.

Can I play from Tunica?

No. Tunica has a plethora of gambling options, is only a few miles from Tennessee, and has retail sports betting in some places. However, you will not be able to place wagers on Tennessee online sportsbooks from there.

Do I have to be a Tennessee resident to play?

No. You need only be physically inside the state and of age to bet on sports in Tennessee.

Can I play online casino games or poker with these apps?

No. Online gambling beyond sports betting remains illegal in Tennessee, and none of the sports betting apps will offer any kind of integrated experience.

However, a successful launch and river of new revenue could change some hearts in the Tennessee legislature. Therefore we’ll just have to see if the wind is blowing a different direction in a year or two.