MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Legal, online sports betting in the state of Tennessee will be available for the first time starting this weekend.
Many sports fans are excited about the ability to place bets on their favorite teams, players and more.
Starting this Sunday, Grizzlies fans can officially place a legal bet for Ja Morant or Jaren Jackson Junior to win MVP of the NBA next season and much more.
But with the excitement of this new opportunity in Tennessee, also comes concern over its accessibility.
The State of Tennessee is taking a unique approach to legalized sports gambling.
This Sunday, Tennessee will become the first state to legalize and regulate online and mobile sports gambling directly without a previous legal gaming industry or casino system.
“We’re really excited to be launching FanDuel in Tennessee, it’s a phenomenal sports marketplace,” Mike Raffensperger, Chief Marketing Officer for FanDuel, said.
“Home to teams with incredibly passionate fans,” Adam Greenblatt, CEO of Bet MGM game, said.
On Sunday, 4 online sports books go live: Bet MGM, Fan Duel, Draft Kings, and Tennessee Action 24/7, all offering special deals for signing up.
Tennessee is taxing sports gambling at a high, 20% rate. State lawmakers project the new industry to bring in an estimated 50 million dollars a year in revenue to be divided up, with 80% going to education, 15% for roads and infrastructure products, and 5% to help gambling addictions.
“We think it’s important that sports betting is regulated, taxed and creates an economic incentive for the state,” Raffensperger said. “I think it will be a really great opportunity for the state of Tennessee.”
Addiction experts say mobile and online gambling is a concern, with gambling being available anytime, anywhere in the state on your cell phone.
“That will pave the way for greater chances for addictive patterns to develop so we do need to be careful about that,” Charles Winton, Program Director at Lakeside Behavioral Health, said.
A representative from FanDuel and Bet MGM say they take responsible gambling very seriously. Their mobile apps track user behavior for warning signs and have built-in features allowing customers to limit a wide variety of different play activities to help keep their gambling under control.
“We think sports betting should be fun, and we want to make sure we help our customers keep it that way,” Raffensperger said.
“For us, what success looks like is that a lot of our players play at a level which remains an entertainment experience for them and within their spend tolerance,” Greenblatt said.
Starting Sunday, betting for pro sports and college sports will be available, although the State of Tennessee is regulating bets on college sports more strictly, allowing customers to bet on teams but not allowing in-game bets and bets on individual players.