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Tennessee punters stake $27.4m in first week of legal wagering


Bettors in Tennessee wagered $27.4m in the first seven days of legal mobile wagering, according to figures from the state’s Education Lottery, the body responsible for licensing and regulation of the vertical.

Sports betting – for mobile devices only – went live in Tennessee from 1 November, with industry giants BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel among the first wave alongside local brand Action247.

For that day, handle came to $5.1m, and after payouts and adjustments – including the state’s controversial 10% fixed payout rate – revenue amounted to $800,000. The state’s 20% gross revenue levy resulted in licensees paying tax of $160,000. 

For the week to November 8, customers staked $27.4m in total, which resulted in revenue of $2.5m for the seven day period. This generated taxes of $509,000 for the state. 

The majority of this tax revenue (80%) is to go to the state treasurer to deposit in the Lottery for Education Account, the main beneficiary of lottery revenue, with a further 15% to be distributed to local governments in the state. 

The remaining 5% will go to the state’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, to fund grants for problem gambling services. 

“In our role as the regulator of this industry we are focused on establishing and supporting a responsible and competitive sports wagering program in Tennessee,” Tennessee Education Lottery president and chief executive Rebecca Paul Hargrove said. 

“These numbers are encouraging as we work to protect the consumer, promote fairness in sports and regulate this new Tennessee industry that provides critical funds for education, as well as local governments and problem gambling services.”

The launch was facilitated by a bill passed by the state legislature in April 2019, which Tennessee governor Bill Lee allowed to pass into law without his signature a month later. 

The early sports betting figures follow the lottery posting record-breaking figures for the first quarter of its fiscal year. For the three months to 30 September, revenue grew to $492.8m, the highest first quarter total posted since the lottery’s inception in 2004.

This saw the lottery transfer $114.0m to the Lottery for Education Account, which uses lottery funding to award scholarships and grants.