Tennessee Takes Another Step Toward Sports Betting Launch

Tennessee Takes Another Step Toward Sports Betting Launch
© USA Today

Tennessee is moving closer to launching its sports betting market before Nov. 1

During a special meeting Wednesday of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. Sports Wagering Committee, three operators who applied for sports wagering licenses were reviewed: BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel.

Tennessee Action 24/7, a local operator, completed an application, but was not reviewed at this time.

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“Vendors, suppliers and operators have to be approved before moving ahead. Until the operator’s supplier is approved, the operator can’t go live,” said lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove during the committee meeting. “Some won’t be approved until our next meeting.”

Conditional approval for BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel was given after all three were reviewed thoroughly among committee members for over three hours.

The committee also approved its first supplier application and 26 additional vendor applications on Wednesday.

“The staff at the Tennessee Lottery performed a tremendous amount of work and due diligence to prepare us for these decisions today,” Board Chair Susan Lanigan said. “We appreciate their efforts as we work to establish and support a responsible and competitive sports wagering program in Tennessee.”

A final stamp of approval for each will be voted upon at the committee’s next gathering on Oct. 5.

Seeking to Start by Nov. 1

During the last meeting on Aug. 19, Hargrove said sports betting will be operational no later than Nov. 1. But it could launch sooner, possibly one or two weeks earlier, if the four operators who have applied can launch on the same day.

Tennessee is launching the first all-mobile market in the U.S. Casinos and racetracks are prohibited in the state. The sports betting law took effect in July 2019.

The Tennessee Lottery has received criticism from the gaming industry for some of the regulations it adopted, including a high hold cap and a licensing fee of $750,000. The board had passed a resolution last month saying it would issue $25,000 fines (the highest allowed by the law) for violations of the 10% cap regulation, but that it could also suspend or not renew licenses for more serious violations.

The high hold of 10% is seen as unprecedented in the U.S. market and could affect betting lines. The national hold average is about 7.5%, according to a study of Tennessee’s proposed cap by industry analysts Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. The study was released as regulations were being considered by the state in the spring.

The legislation approved in Tennessee sets a tax rate of 20% (one of the highest rates nationally) and requires the use of official data from sports leagues.

In-play betting on college sports is not allowed. A controversial rule on parlay betting that was criticized during the comment period for regulations was not adopted.

Check Out: Latest updates and legal Tennessee Sports Betting Sites.