Tennessee a blueprint for online sports gambling

Other states look on as Tennessee becomes first state with all mobile & online sports betting.
Tennessee has approved four companies to begin accepting online sports wagers.
Tennessee has approved four companies to begin accepting online sports wagers.(WVLT News)
Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 8:25 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -After 18 months, legalized online sports betting is now live in Tennessee.

“It’s definitely been a long and windy road for sure," said Brian Pempus with tnbets.com. “Tennessee’s definitely been a lot slower than other states in terms of when the bill became effective and when the industry actually launched."

The year and a half journey was completed Sunday when four companies began accepting the first bets. Tennessee is a unique state in that it doesn’t have the casino or gambling infrastructure that most other states do.

Pempus said the push to a nationwide mobile and online sports betting could be a reason why it took so long for the first bets to be placed.

“I think bettors will be happy with the product. It’s good that it’s launching during the NFL season which is a very positive time for betting.”

Tennessee has been an attractive market for sports betting companies. It’s an untapped market featuring three out of the big four professional sports, as well as the University of Tennessee.

FanDuel Chief Marketing Officer Mike Raffensperger said while the excitement of launching in the Volunteer State has a lot to do with the numerous fanbases, the mobile sports betting platform that Tennessee offers made the transition even better.

“One of the specific reasons is it’s the first state to be legislating and now regulating without a historic gaming marketplace," said Raffensperger. "They didn’t have licenses or kind of physical gaming locations that served as sort of a backbone, but rather went directly to online sports betting and bringing that marketplace to life directly. It’s exciting.”

While regulated sports betting brings protection to the consumer, and an estimated $50 million in tax revenue to the state, opponents of it have looked to gambling addiction as an issue.

The Tennessee Lottery, which oversees sports gambling in the state, has a number of hotlines and resources for those struggling. Regulations even require companies to be proactive. Raffensperger says companies like FanDuel will even reach out to users once certain signs of addiction are noticed on their account.

“There’s actually a tremendous amount of activity behind the scenes," said Raffensperger. "We make sure that we’re not just rolling out sports betting with a great fun commercial opportunity, but we’re doing it in a responsible way.”

Pempus said the addition of sports betting into the Tennessee market now makes the state much more attractive to professional sports not already here.

“Major League Baseball and other sports leagues have forged relationships with gambling operators and I think a baseball team in Nashville is a natural fit, especially with sports betting.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from gambling addiction, click here.

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