March Madness helped propel Tennessee to more than $200 million in bets, almost entirely reversing the state’s first month-over-month decline in February. And with two new operators launching in the state, Tennessee’s market took a significant step in its maturation process, according to analysts from PlayTenn, which researches the Tennessee gaming market.
“Tennessee is beginning to normalize after that initial burst, but March is proof that the state is still very much in a period of significant growth,” said Jessica Welman, lead analyst for PlayTenn.com. “Locals have been quick to embrace sports betting, and operators have invested heavily in the market. That has made up for what has been a somewhat rocky road in the state.”
Bettors placed $205.9 million in wagers in March, The Tennessee Education Lottery announced over the weekend. That is up 16.8% from $176.3 million in February, even if it fell short of the record of $211.3 million set during the NFL playoffs-boosted January. March’s wagers produced $16.1 million in adjusted gross income, up 23.8% from $13 million in February and only topped by January’s $21.8 million.
The brisk action in March yielded $3.2 million in state taxes.
With March’s bets, Tennessee sportsbooks have now generated $905.8 million in wagers since November’s launch, falling just shy of becoming the quickest U.S. state to reach $1 billion in lifetime handle.
“Even with the early knockout of Tennessee, the state’s lone representative in this year’s NCAA Tournament, March Madness was still a huge draw,” said Nicole Russo, analyst for PlayTenn.com. “It has been an interesting ride so far in Tennessee, but the foundation of the market remains strong.”
But the success hasn’t come without issues, including the TEL’s decision in March to suspend Action 24/7, which was then reinstated a week later with a court-ordered injunction. Coincidentally, while Action 24/7 was momentarily suspended in March, two new operators launched. William Hill and TwinSpires joined DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Action 24/7 in Tennessee, adding two recognizable brands.
Tennessee does not release data on individual operators, but analysts at PlayTenn.com believe that the three leaders, DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM, are in a neck-and-neck race for the market lead. And it’s too early to tell whether either of the two upstarts in the state can gain significant market share.
“William Hill and TwinSpires have the potential to shake up the market a bit, but it will be difficult for either of them to displace any of the top three operators in the market,” Russo said. “Still, it is a sign of an increasingly robust market that new operators are launching, and we expect more to come before the kickoff of the 2021 NFL and college football seasons.”