Tennessee Sports Wagering Council Takes Over, Gets to Work

Tennessee Sports Wagering Council Takes Over, Gets to Work
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The nine-member Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council met Tuesday in Nashville to discuss the first order of business: hiring an executive director.

This was the first step in the transition of regulatory responsibility of sports betting in the state to the Sports Wagering Advisory Council from the Tennessee Education Lottery, which became law after Gov. Bill Lee signed the legislation on May 27.

RELATED: More on Tennessee sports betting and gaming

The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting focused on the process of hiring the director, including discussion of hiring a search firm to vet potential candidates. It was the first meeting held in-person, not virtually, since the coronavirus pandemic.

Council member Hanes Torbett said during the meeting that he liked having a third-party group offering information on possible candidates because he didn’t think the council was knowledgeable on hiring someone to oversee online sports wagering.

The Job Description

Council member Tom Lee said he agreed with using a firm because of the quality of candidates they’re seeking.

“We’re talking about people who are significantly experienced, they’ve probably got a very good job right now,” Lee said. “Maybe someone in a similar position in another state or the maybe the No. 2 in another state. And advancing their name is going to be complicated. So, there’s a part of this process that is helpful from a search firm that will be helpful like this is what you have to bring to the market.”

A director is needed after Danielle Boyd left in March to become the vice president of regulatory and compliance at Hard Rock Digital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She was in the job about eight months. The council discussed the new director would need to be compensated enough so he or she “would be here for a while.”

Boyd replaced Jennifer Roberts, who was also in the job less than a year.

Council Needs to Act Quickly

While this meeting began the discussion process, the council will completely take over the regulation of Tennessee sports gaming on Jan. 1. But it aims to have a director in place before then because of how it is growing in the state.

Alonda McCutcheon, executive vice president and general counsel for the Tennessee Education Lottery, said there are six new applicants for online sports gaming licenses pending and those businesses want to be up and running by the NFL season.

The Council will meet again June 29 in Nashville.

Sports Betting Growing Quickly

Numbers haven’t been released for May, but the sports betting handle in April for Tennessee was $172.4 million. That total put the state over $1 billion in total handle ($1.08 billion) since launching last November. Tennessee is an all-online market.

There are seven sportsbooks live in the Tennessee sports betting market: DraftKings, FanDuel, WynnBet, BetMGM, Action 24/7, TwinSpires and William Hill.

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