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VOL. 45 | NO. 4 | Friday, January 22, 2021

Tennessee sports betting tax revenue hits $5.4M in 2 months

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee's online-only sports betting program has seen $312.3 million in gross wagers in its first two months, yielding $5.4 million in privilege taxes, officials said Tuesday.

The Tennessee Lottery announced figures showing $180.9 million in gross wagers, $167 million in gross payouts and almost $3.1 million in privilege tax revenues from sports betting in December, all three topping the totals from November.

Eighty percent of the tax revenue goes into an education account that mostly funds postsecondary scholarships. Fifteen percent goes toward local government needs and 5% funds gambling problem treatment programs. Four sportsbooks are operating. The lottery hopes to have three more licensed in time to take Super Bowl bets, lottery CEO Rebecca Hargrove told state lawmakers Tuesday.

Legislative backers have said Tennessee sports betting could yield $50 million in tax revenue annually.

Sports betting narrowly passed in spring 2019. Republican Gov. Bill Lee let it become law without signing it due to his opposition to more gambling in a state without casinos. After the law took effect that summer, the lottery was tasked with coming up with rules and vetting operators and others looking to get into Tennessee's industry. Now the lottery regulates how sports betting is carried out.

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