NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee has raked in millions from online sports betting revenue and some expect to bring in more after Super Bowl Sunday. You can catch the game on NewsChannel5, but some fans say they’re just as interested in the game behind the game.
Bucs, Chiefs, I’m sure for someone out there it matters who comes out on top. When your team is watching from home, Curtis Bowser finds ways to make the big game a little more interesting.
“I’ve got a folder created that’s just called gambling,” Bowser said.
Bowser has four of the now five legal sports betting platforms in Tennessee on his phone. He moved here from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where sports betting is also legal. Bowser has all the experience, but maybe not all the luck. The point is, he’s back in the game, even if his team is not.
“Definitely lost more than I’ve won, but I keep my head in it and my heart in it. We’ll take the wins when we can get them,” Bowser said.
We met Bowser at Corner Pub in downtown Nashville. Corey Coleman is the director of operations at Luckey Hospitality, which manages the restaurant and four others. He says It’s a little different this year as they adjust their game plan for a more socially distanced environment.
“We’re set up for 50 percent (capacity). We had to move some tables and chairs around to make that happen,” Coleman said.
A lot of changes, but two things are almost certain, people will watch and people will bet. Coleman says the restaurant has no connection to sports betting other than they have sports on their big screens. That said, they know more than a few people will probably have some money riding on who wins.
It’s still a new concept in Tennessee, but you wouldn’t know that from the more than $131 million wagered in the state’s first month of operating legal sports betting. The number easily set the record for most by a state in their first month. In December, we saw that number climb again to $180 million.
The taxes collected from online sports betting over the first two months alone in Tennessee nearly topped $5.5 million. 80 percent of that money goes to state education programs while some of the proceeds go to gambling addiction resources.
With how easy it can be to log on to any one of the betting platforms, some fans say they’re doing their best not to risk it all.
“There’s probably some false confidence that leads me to think I’m going to get it right this time, but no one is 100 percent. I’ve lost because of that, but that’s part of it,” Aaron Heiliger said.
Heiliger is a self-described recovering sports gambler. He won’t say whether or not he plans to bet on Sunday’s game. All he knows is it’s hard to pass up some of the promotions with odds in some cases offering 55 to 1 on either team to win. Meaning if you place a bet of $5, you can make $275.
According to the Tennessee Education Lottery, sports betting platforms paid out a gross total of $285,219,615 between November and December.
If both Heiliger and Bowser bet on Sunday they’ll hardly be alone. The American Gaming Association says they expect 7 million people to place bets online across the now 20 states with legal sports betting.
If you or someone you know struggles with gambling addiction, you can call or text Tennessee REDLINE: 800-889-9789.
The REDLINE is an information and referral helpline coordinated by the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & Other Addiction Services (TAADAS). The group is funded by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health Substance Abuse Services.