Churchill Downs Ready to Join Tennessee Market After Securing Online Sportsbook License

  • Company is set to join four other operators in the market, including FanDuel and BetMGM
  • Regulators are yet to provide launch authorization but will meet again later this month to discuss
  • BetAmerica, currently active in six states, will rebrand as TwinSpires with its Michigan launch
  • TN's sports betting market generated $131.4m handle and $2.4m tax revenue in its first full month
Map of Tennessee
Churchill Down’s online sportsbook could soon join four others in the Tennessee market after it received license approval from state regulators. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The fifth sportsbook in the Volunteer State

Churchill Downs Incorporated is all set to join Tennessee’s newly regulated online sports betting market. The US gaming operator’s sportsbook is now the fifth to receive a license in the Volunteer State after the market went live on November 1.

State officials approved Churchill Downs’ license during a Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation on Wednesday afternoon. Regulators are yet to provide authorization for the launch but plan to meet again later this month. 12 new vendors also received licenses during the meeting.

company will operate in Tennessee under the name TwinSpires after announcing plans for a rebrand

Although state officials approved Churchill Downs’ BetAmerica brand, the company will likely operate in Tennessee under the name TwinSpires after announcing plans for a rebrand on Wednesday. The app will join offerings from DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Action 24/7 in the state’s burgeoning market.

WynnBet and William Hill are still awaiting their respective approvals, although both completed their applications around the same time as Churchill Downs.

Churchill Downs’ sports betting expansion

Although originating from the land-based casino and horse racing industries, Churchill Downs has recently increased its focus on its sportsbook expansion. Once it launches in Tennessee, the operator’s sportsbook will be active in seven states, including Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

sportsbook will be active in seven states

In addition to its approaching Tennessee launch, Churchill Downs plans to soon activate its online offering in Michigan through a tribal partnership with the Hannahville Indian Community. The operator launched its retail sports betting facility in Michigan in September 2020. It aims to go live with an online casino and sportsbook offering when the state’s online gambling market is underway some time in Q1 2021.

On Wednesday, Churchill Downs announced it would rebrand its BetAmerica sportsbook to coincide with its Michigan launch. The renaming of its sportsbooks and online gambling platforms as TwinSpires will reflect a new “single brand strategy”.

As part of the rebrand, the company will transition from a platform provided by SBTech, partnering instead with Kambi Group and GAN Limited. The two suppliers will provide their player account management, casino platform, sports trading, and risk management services.

A promising start for Tennessee

There are no casinos in the Volunteer State, making it the first online-only sports betting market in the US. Tennessee became the 19th state to offer legal sports betting when the market launched in November 2020. All four current online sports betting operators launched on the first day.

BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Action 24/7 all reported record launch-day handles

According to data from the Tennessee Education Lottery, handle totaled $5.1m for the market’s first day, corresponding to $349,000 in tax for the state. BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Action 24/7 all reported record launch-day handles.

In its first full month, total sports betting handle was $131.4m in the Volunteer State, with the four sportsbooks generating nearly $2.4m in tax revenue. Rebecca Hargrove, Tennessee Lottery CEO, said the results indicated the “potential” of the market. However, in view of 2020’s unprecedented nature, she warned of difficulty in “extrapolating” from the results.