It’s been a long time coming, but the wait is (almost) over, legal sports betting will officially arrive in Tennessee this year. In fact, it will launch during the 2020 college football and NFL seasons.
In August, the Associated Press reported that Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove expects the state’s first sportsbooks to go live no later than Nov. 1, which means the launch would happen right as college football and the NFL seasons ramp up.
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It’s about time that legal sports betting launches in the Volunteer State seeing as how it technically became legal in the state in May 2019 when Gov. Bill Lee allowed a sports betting bill to become law despite not signing it himself.
According to the state lottery, four firms have completed applications to serve as sports gaming operators, with the operator’s license carrying a $750,000 annual price tag. Sports betting in Tennessee will be different than any other state, at least for the time being, as it is the only state that will have an online-only format. The online-only step makes sense seeing as how there are no legal gambling locations in the state.
Tennessee did reserve the right to revisit the rules it sets in place after one year of operating. Whether that be a more consumer-friendly experience before next year’s football season, only time will tell.
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One of those rules the state may look to revisit down the line is its mandatory hold pricing of 10%. This stacks the odds even stronger against a bettor in the state mandating online books generate at least a 10% hold and cap payouts to 90%. Bettors will have to pay more to operators in Tennessee compared to other states, according to Action Network.
Simply put, bettors who wager $100 will be paying the sportsbook an extra $10 or $15. The revenue that comes from Tennessee’s hold is to be put back into the state. General appropriations by the general assembly will receive 40% of the hold, 30% will go to local colleges, and another 30% will go to local government, its school systems, and infrastructure projects.
Tennessee will be the 18th state in the U.S. to welcome legal sports betting.