Tennessee Axes Accounts Over Super Bowl Bets, Michigan Online Gambling off to $42.7m Start

  • Two Tennessee sportsbooks closed a total of 74 accounts for unspecified illegal betting activity
  • Michigan online gambling operators earned $42.7m in the ten-day period ended January 31
  • Tennessee sportsbooks handled $15.5m in Super Bowl bets, earning $2.9m in revenue
  • The upset win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was good for sportsbooks across the US
  • FanDuel had the biggest market share in Michigan, followed by DraftKings and Barstool Sports
Super Bowl banner downtown Tampa
Two Tennessee sportsbooks closed 74 accounts for illegal Super Bowl betting activity, while Michigan posted strong opening month online gambling figures. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Suspicious betting activity

Two sportsbooks in Tennessee shut down a total of 74 accounts as a result of illegal Super Bowl bets, while online gambling operators in Michigan posted $42.7m in revenue for the first ten days following launch.

operators noticed “significant anomalies”

On Wednesday, the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) reported that two of the four online sportsbooks that are live in the state reported illegal betting activity for the recent Super Bowl. The specific sportsbooks that had to close the accounts are unknown; the lottery only stated during a board of directors meeting that the operators noticed “significant anomalies.”

In Michigan, online casinos and sportsbooks were able to launch for the first time on January 22. The Michigan Gaming Control Board announced on Tuesday that iGaming operators took in gross receipts of $29.4m for the month ended January 31. Online sports betting gross receipts were $13.3m on $115.2m in handle for the ten-day period.

Ongoing investigation in Tennessee

Super Bowl betting is big business in the United States and it is the largest sporting event in the country in terms of handle each year. The Tennessee authorities did not provide many details about the suspicious betting activity that took place at a couple of sportsbooks for the big game, simply saying several bets were voided and an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

TEL did not give approval for operators to allow non-football prop bets on the Super Bowl, though there was no indication if this had anything to do with the issue. Certain states allowed operators to accept bets on markets such as the color of the Gatorade that the winning team dumps over the head coach.

Online sportsbooks launched in Tennessee on November 1. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Action 24/7 are the current operators up and running in the state. William Hill, WynnBET, and Churchill Downs are preparing to launch, while other operators are in the paperwork stage.

Between the launch date and the end of January, online sportsbook handle in the state has been $523m. For the Super Bowl, sportsbooks had a total handle of $15.5m, earning about $2.9m in revenue for the operators. Tennessee does not currently permit retail sportsbooks.

A lucrative sporting event

Overall, US sportsbooks had a good Super Bowl, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in an upset. Nevada took in more wagers on the big game than any other state, handling $136m worth of bets. This was a 12% year-on-year decrease, but it was still the fifth-highest handle for the game in the state since the Nevada Gaming Control Board started tracking in 1991.

accepted five bets with a stake of at least $1m

Nevada sportsbooks won $12.6m from the event and they accepted five bets with a stake of at least $1m. New Jersey sportsbooks handled $117.4m for the Super Bowl, a 116% year-on-year rise. The net win for sportsbooks in the Garden State was $11.3m.

One of the bettors who won big was Houston businessman and famed sports gambler Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. His $3.46m bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5 points was successful, netting him a profit of $3.16m. McIngvale placed the wager in Colorado through the DraftKings mobile sportsbook.

Strong start for Michigan online gambling

Michigan’s online gambling market is off to a strong start. According to Chris Grove of the gaming consultancy firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming: “Michigan generated more launch-month online gambling gaming revenue than any other U.S. market in history.”

Some of the reasons Grove provided for this success include launching the market with a comprehensive selection of Tier 1 brands and peak sports seasonality. Upon launch, ten online sportsbooks went live in Michigan, with FanDuel having the biggest market share in January at 28.3%. DraftKings was next on the list with 24.5%, followed by Barstool Sports and BetMGM.

From the online gambling operations in January, operators generated $4.4m worth of tax revenue, nearly all of which came from online casino games. This money goes toward education programs and provides funding to the city of Detroit and the state’s tribal communities.