Sports Gambling is Now Legal in Tennessee… Now What?

By gambling, you're also helping raise scholarship money for the state.

Written by Chris Chamberlain
Sports Gambling is Now Legal in Tennessee… Now What?
Photo courtesy of BetMGM

On November 1, Tennesseans added a lot of “action” to their sports viewing as wagering on games became legal for the first time. The state legislature passed the law legalizing sports wagering in 2019, and since then four companies have received approval to accept bets via phone apps, making the state the first in the country to participate in sports gambling strictly virtually with no casino presence. The system is regulated under the Tennessee Education Lottery, and will collect a 20% tax on all bets to help support scholarships in the state.

The four companies that currently operate app-based sports books in the state are three national companies, BetMGM, DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook plus a Tennessee-based option, Tennessee Action 24/7. Users must register with whichever company they choose to use to place their bets and must physically be within the state to place their bets. Each company employs geolocation via smartphone to ensure that the user is in Tennessee, and the pre-registration process includes age verification that only adults 21 years of age or older are taking part in sports wagering.

Once you sign up, you can load money into your account from your bank or credit card, and most of the services are offering signup bonuses like free bets or extra cash added to the initial deposit. After that simple process, users have access to bet on a number of sports ranging from college and pro football, baseball, basketball and hockey to more esoteric options like professional tennis, golf, auto racing, MMA or even darts.

Players can wager on point spreads, the money line (simply picking the winner of the game), parlays (linking multiple bets to receive higher payouts if you win all of your bets), the total number of points scored and fun proposition bets like who will score the first touchdown in a game or how many passing yards Ryan Tannehill gains in a particular game. You can also bet on what are called “futures,” such as picking who will win next year’s World Series or the winner of a future golf tournament.

“We’ve been eagerly working with regulators in Tennessee to make this momentous launch a possibility and look forward to introducing the state’s passionate fan bases to the excitement of betting on sports with BetMGM,” said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt. “Our relationship with MGM Resorts enables BetMGM users in the Volunteer State to earn rewards, from hotel suites to dinners at award-winning restaurants, all while engaging in the excitement of our cutting-edge sports betting experience.”

We scored an exclusive interview with Mr. Greenblatt to learn more about what users can expect from this fun new opportunity. Here’s what he had to say about how BetMGM operates and how to be a power user:

Sounds Like Nashville: What did BetMGM do to get to be one of the four companies approved to participate in online sports betting in Tennessee?

Adam Greenblatt: In order to receive a mobile sports betting license in the state of Tennessee, operators must go through an application process. From there, Tennessee’s regulator chose the top operators to earn the first licenses. We’re honored that BetMGM was selected, and do not take it lightly on our part in making sure that sports betting in Tennessee is rolled out responsibly while providing Tennesseans a fun and entertaining experience.

SLN: What are the benefits to the state that will come from sports gambling?

Greenblatt: Sports betting has proven to be a great resource of a new revenue stream for states to reinvest back into projects that benefit local communities, and Tennessee will be no different. The state will benefit greatly from taxable revenue generated from sports betting.

SLN: What can users expect in terms of a user experience with BetMGM?

Greenblatt: We’ve created a user-friendly experience on BetMGM that allows everyone, from inexperienced bettors to experts, to easily place bets before the game – as well as in-play lines that update play-to-play while the game is in action. Additionally, we’ve added functionality for users to personalize prop bets – so they can go into a specific game, choose their favorite player from their favorite team, and build their own bet on how they think that player will perform – a unique feature you will not find anywhere else. Lastly, BetMGM is integrated with MGM Resorts, which operates some of the most iconic casino-resorts in the world like Bellagio and MGM Grand in Vegas, Beau Rivage in Mississippi, amongst others. We are the only app that allows users to earn rewards for their play in our app that they can translate to real world travel experiences, like a suite overlooking the Bellagio Fountains or dinner at a celebrity chef restaurant.

SLN: What sports will be eligible for wagering?

Greenblatt: BetMGM is proud to offer a wide assortment of sports markets such as football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, soccer, auto racing, tennis and combat sports.

SLN: Can Tennesseans use BetMGM when they’re in other states that allow sports wagering?

Greenblatt: Tennesseans can use BetMGM in states where BetMGM is currently operating – including Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia, with more states to come.

SLN: How does BetMGM ensure that their application will be used by legal eligible residents?

Greenblatt: Every sports betting operator requires KYC verification in order to sign up for an account. We also use geolocation technology to ensure the bettor is in a legal state, making the entire experience secure and in compliance with regulatory laws.

SLN: What steps are you taking to ensure responsible usage?

Greenblatt: It is our top priority to make sure that everyone uses BetMGM safely and responsibly. The first part is education of our users as we provide resources to adopt a practical and healthy mindset to sports betting. Next, we’ve built a thorough internal responsible gaming program for our employees to be able to identify and assist with any players spending outside their limits.

SLN: Do you have any tips on how to maximize the enjoyment of using BetMGM for wagering?

Greenblatt: Watching sports can definitely be more entertaining when you’ve got action on the games! Take a look at what games you want to watch on a college football Sunday or an NFL Sunday – and explore all of the bets that are possible for that game. Whether you think your favorite receiver is going to have a big game, or you know one team always has the edge in a historic rivalry – BetMGM offers a variety of ways for players to apply their knowledge into making fun and customized wagers.

SLN: Are there any planned future expansions or improvements in the pipeline to make BetMGM even better?

Greenblatt: We have some of the most talented product developers in the world who are always working on enhancements to the app. We’ve developed two new great functionalities that directly benefit users – first, we have implemented the ability to edit bets – meaning anyone can go back and make modifications to a placed bet, in case they find out prior to a game starting that their favorite player is not playing. We’ve also created a Parlay Generator within BetMGM, which is an easy-to-use tool where users can plug in a set of criteria – say, I want to bet $5 to win $5000 on NFL games this Sunday – and the app will randomize a custom parlay that offers that potential result. These are just the beginnings of all the innovations we continue to push in order to offer BetMGM users an industry-leading sports betting experience.

Game on, Tennessee!