Tennessee Lawmaker Says State Plans To Roll Out Sports Betting In March

State Passed Country's Only Online-Only Bill Last May

Residents of Tennessee are just a couple months away from placing legal sports bets, according to a state lawmaker.

Rep. Rick Staples, a Democrat representing from Knoxville representing District 15, told local media that within a month, the government will start accepting applications from possible operators. He believes that by March, gamblers will be able to place bets.

“We’re hopeful that’ll at least put us into a position by February to take vendors applications,” Staples told the local CBS news affiliate. “First of March, we hope to have a product to roll out.”

Tennessee passed legislation that made sports betting legal last May, but this is the first announcement of any timeline as to when bets can be placed. Gov. Bill Lee neither signed nor vetoed HB1, allowing it to become law through inaction just before the start of the 2019 World Series of Poker.

The Volunteer State doesn’t have a single casino, and despite legalizing sports betting, it won’t have any physical sportsbooks either. The bill only allows online or mobile wagering. Tennessee was one of seven states to legalize sports betting in 2019, but of the now 20 states that have legalized it, it is the only one that passed online-only legislation.

Staples argued that since his state is the only one to take this route, it’s the main cause of the delay.

“Being that Tennessee is the first to roll out online interactive and mobile, we want to make sure that we’re rolling out a good product and taking our time to get all the bugs and the kinks worked out,” said Staples.

Online betting has proven crucial to markets. New Jersey, one of the sports betting leaders in the U.S. generates more than 80 percent of its revenue from online wagers. Rhode Island also fell far short of its revenue projections until it passed a second bill to legalize online betting.