June 23, 2021 3 min read


Tennessee Lottery Breaks $2B on the Back of Sports Gambling

Even though 2020 decimated a lot of the US gambling market, the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) can’t be too disappointed with its results. The organization, which oversees lotteries, sports gambling and more in the state, just released its financial report for the latest fiscal year and has reached a new milestone. For the first time ever, it recorded revenue of more than $2 billion, a big part of which can be attributed to the success of Tennessee’s sports gambling market.

Tennessee Gambling on the Rise

Tennessee is among the first states to introduce an online-only sports gambling market and it has proven to be a winning model. Mobile sportsbooks went live for the first time last November and, since then, have continued to beat expectations. With the TEL wrapping up its fiscal year on June 15, it can definitely thank sportsbooks and sports gamblers for its newfound success, but doesn’t need to give them all of the credit. The sports gambling market surpassed $1 billion in revenue this past April; however, the Lottery is also finding increases in popularity in some of its other options, as well.

The Lottery began seeing improvement last year, with the period from July 1 to September 30 giving it $498.2 million. That was a year-on-year increase of 16.8% and, at the time, the best quarter on record. Since then, the TEL has continued to increase its margins. Second-quarter sales of instant games increased by over 17% to $399.5 million and, this past April, it saw $47.1 million in instant games sales in the opening week.

The results led TEL President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove to assert, “This has been quite the year in many ways, but our mission remains the same: to raise funds for the designated education programs we fund. This is a great day for students across Tennessee, and we look forward to announcing our fiscal year totals in mid-July.”

Education is the Big Winner

The improved performance means more money for education programs in Tennessee. The results of the first fiscal quarter allowed the TEL to give $114 million to the state’s Lottery for Education Account, and another $140.3 million was added in the third quarter. When the final results are submitted for the fiscal year, the total amount contributed will be revealed, but it is obviously going to be substantially more than in previous years. In fiscal year 2020, the Lottery reported revenue of $1.84 billion, and it now has another $160 million, approximately, to work with.

The increase seen in the most recent fiscal year follows a trend that has been occurring over the past several years. In the 2019 fiscal year, the Lottery reported revenue of $1.812 billion, which added roughly $30 million last year. 2019’s performance was a 4.4% increase over that of 2018 and the 2020 results, partly hampered by COVID-19, only grew by 1.5% from the previous year. However, the TEL has been able to continue to move forward and contribute more money to scholarships and grants that help the state grow.


Erik brings his unique writing talents and storytelling flare to cover a wide range of gambling topics. He has written for a number of industry-related publications over the years, providing insight into the constantly evolving world of gaming. A huge sports fan, he especially enjoys football and anything related to sports gambling. Erik is particularly interested in seeing how sports gambling and online gaming are transforming the larger gaming ecosystem.

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