by Jon Styf
Sports bettors in Tennessee will have new options for betting after the board that oversees sports gambling in the state approved three more online sportsbooks Thursday.
BallyBet, SuperBook and Gamewise were approved to operate in the state, bringing Tennessee to 13 approved sports gambling operators. TwinSpires, operated by Churchill Downs Interactive Gaming, recently announced during an earnings call it will discontinue its online sports gaming operation, according to PlayTenn, after beginning operations in Tennessee in March 2021.
The Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council (TSWAC) approved Fubo Gaming at its February meeting after TSWAC Executive Director Mary Beth Thomas said in January that Tennessee could reach 14 total sportsbooks in 2022 if all the applications the group received were approved.
SuperBook, affiliated with the Las Vegas Hilton and Westgate resorts, said it will be ready to operate by mid- or late April. BallyBet plans to be available for Tennessee users in late 2022 or early 2023. It was not clear when Gamewise, an app-based service from Delaware North, would be available for Tennessee gamblers.
TSWAC Board Member Tom Lee asked BallyBet how it would help prevent issues such as the recent yearlong suspension of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who was accused of making bets in Florida.
According to media reports, the Ridley bets were discovered by Genius Sports, an NFL partner who is an approved Tennessee operator who contributes to the line-making for several Tennessee online sportsbooks.
After his suspension, Ridley tweeted, “I bet 1500 total I don’t have a gambling problem.”
Robeson Reeves, President of Bally Interactive, said BallyBet uploads a database of names of people of interest across the U.S. who are not allowed to bet and cross-references bettor names with that list.
Thomas said Tennessee soon would begin posting events and leagues the board has approved betting on and which have been denied for online sports gaming in Tennessee.
The USFL football league and bareknuckle fighting recently were approved, Thomas said. NFL Combine gambling was not approved because the group believed it was too close to college football prop bets, which are not allowed.
Tennessee sportsbooks collected $386.1 million in bets in January, with $29.1 million in adjusted gross income. They also took in $23 million in Super Bowl wagers.
Tennessee collects 20% of the industry’s net operator revenue in taxes. Of the sports gambling taxes, 80% of the taxes collected from sports gambling goes to education, 15% goes to the state for distribution to local governments and 5% goes toward mental health programs.
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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for The Center Square, Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.