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Tennessee Sportsbooks Shatter Records With $131M In Handle For Debut Month

Tennessee betting handle for the state’s first month of legal sports betting hit over $131 million, shattering previous records.

As Tennessee nears the end of its second full month of legal sports betting, numbers from the first month are in, and the news is good.

In fact, according to figures shared by the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL), the Volunteer State enjoyed the best first month of any state that has newly legalized sports betting.

Busy November of wagers, payouts for TN sportsbooks

The TEL’s first monthly report does not offer too many specifics, but it does list gross wagers, gross payouts, and the privilege tax.

Here are those totals covering the period from Nov. 1-30, 2020:

  • Gross Wagers: $131,444,523
  • Gross Payouts: $118,219,615
  • Privilege Tax: $2,363,918

Gross wagers refers to the total “handle” or amount wagered by sports bettors on the four operating Tennessee sportsbooks. Those four sportsbooks are:

Tennessee betting handle the biggest for debut month

The $131.4 million wagered is well above the debut handle any other US state has realized since the US Supreme Court ruled against the federal sports betting ban in May 2018.

In fact, the next-closest was Indiana with a first-month handle of $35.2 million in September 2019.

Subtracting gross payouts from gross wagers reveals the four sportsbooks collectively enjoyed $13.22 million in revenue during November. The TEL does not provide specific information about how each sportsbook fared.

Of note, Tennessee sportsbooks must abide by a 10% hold requirement, meaning none is permitted to pay out more than 90% of the total wagers accepted.

The hold requirement does not become official until January 2021. Collectively, the sportsbooks barely fulfilled that requirement in November, as revenue represented a little over 10% of the handle.

Once the hold requirement becomes official, sportsbooks will each need to meet that 10% hold over the course of the year or face a $25,000 fine.

Finally, the privilege tax represents 20% of the adjusted gross revenue. Of that total,

  • 80% goes to the Lottery for Education Account
  • 15% goes to a general fund for distribution to local governments
  • 5% goes to fund programs and treatments for mental health and substance abuse

Looking ahead to more sportsbooks, more action in 2021

The positive November numbers weren’t surprising following an earlier report of a strong first week for TN sports betting.

Even so, TEL President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove cautioned against drawing too many hasty conclusions following the first month.

“Our first month of sports wagering in Tennessee comes at a unique time in the world, let alone the sports world,” said Hargrove.

She added that the November totals “indicate potential” going forward. However, given the unique circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, it is “difficult to begin extrapolating out from this single month.”

“As this new industry in Tennessee evolves, we will continue to work with licensees and registrants in support of a responsible and competitive sports wagering program,” said Hargrove.

At present four more Tennessee sportsbooks are poised to launch soon in the new year. These include:

  • BetAmerica
  • William Hill
  • WynnBET
  • ZenSports

Like the present operators, new ones will also operate as online-only as Tennessee allows no retail sportsbooks.

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