How it all came together
The prospect of bringing sports betting to Tennessee was made possible by a groundbreaking Supreme Court ruling in May 2018, which struck down a law that, for over two decades, had limited the vertical mainly to Nevada.
TN legislators saw neighboring states either legalizing or eyeing their own sports betting bills, and were keen to establish the industry inside the state, lest they lose out on a potentially large source of tax revenue.
State Democratic Rep. Rick Staples got the sports wagering conversation started in November 2018, when he introduced bill HB 0001 ahead of the 2019 legislative session.
The bill proposed legalizing online and mobile sports betting in the state, along with wagering at physical kiosks. Operators would be taxed at 10% and pay a negligible $7,500 licensing fee.
After adding an amendment banning prop betting on collegiate sports, lawmakers advanced the bill out of committee and it moved to the full statehouse. In April 2019, the legislation passed both chambers, making Tennessee the first state to legalize sports betting for mobile and Internet connected devices only.
Gov. Bill Lee, who had previously expressed concern that regulated sports betting might somehow usher in organized crime, let the bill become law without his signature.
The state finalized and adopted its official rules and regulations for sports betting on April 15, 2020. Online sports betting finally launched in the state on November 1 of that year, when DraftKings, BetMGM and FanDuel began taking real-money sports bets.