Tennessee Online-Only Sports Betting Market Open for Business
The Tennessee online-only sports betting market went live early Sunday, 16 months after the law legalizing it went into effect.
The market opened at 12:01 a.m. Central Time with four approved operators — BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and Action 247 — in Tennessee. Bettors have to be 21 and physically within the state to place wagers.
Operators are offering a variety of promotions for registering including deposit bonuses and Tennessee Titans odds boosts, among other enticements. The Titans face the Cincinnati Bengals at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Tennessee-based operator Action 247 announced on social media that it was going live Sunday morning joining BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel. But Action 247 on Sunday morning said on social media that "iPhone users will have to use their computer or laptop to place bets" because it was still waiting for approval from Apple:
For now, iPhone users will have to use their computer or laptop to place bets.— Action 247 (@TNAction247) November 1, 2020
Our iOS app is still in review and will be available in the App Store as soon as we receive approval from the wonderful, spectacular, intelligent, good-looking folks at @Apple. pic.twitter.com/P9nNrZCCgh
In a news release on Friday announcing that everything was set to go Sunday, Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove said Sunday “will represent the culmination of an enormous amount of work and due diligence to bring online-only sports wagering to Tennessee, the only state in the nation to do so.”
“As the regulator, today also represents the beginning of a new stage as we establish and support a responsible and competitive program here,” Hargrove said.
The state’s market is all online/mobile because Tennessee does not have any brick-and-mortar casinos or retail sportsbooks.
A Long Road to Tennessee Sports Betting
The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation Sports Wagering Advisory Council, which oversees sports betting, has had some starts and stops since the law took effect in July 2019. In addition to approving the four operators and dozens of suppliers and vendors in recent weeks, it has applications for at least three more sportsbook operators to consider.
The Tennessee Senate and House narrowly passed sports betting bill HB1 in spring 2019, and Gov. Bill Lee, who didn’t sign the bill, let it pass into law. He could have vetoed it.
After less than eight months on the job, respected industry veteran Jennifer Roberts left as director of sports gaming regulation in late June. She was replaced by Danielle Boyd just days later. Boyd had been head of government relations at William Hill U.S. for two years and managing general counsel of the West Virginia Lottery for almost seven years.
Check Out: Latest updates and legal Tennessee Sports Betting Sites.
A High Hold in Tennessee
Some of the regulations adopted by the TELC over the summer raised eyebrows in the industry, especially a high hold cap — the high hold of 10% is seen as unprecedented nationally as states typically have a hold of between 6% and 8%. The lottery board has said previously it could reconsider the hold percentage after a year.
In addition, the sports betting law in Tennessee sets a tax rate of 20% (one of the highest rates nationally), requires the use of official data from sports leagues and operators have to pay a $750,000 annual licensing fee and have geo-fencing technology to ensure the bets were placed within the state.
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