Tennessee Regulator Punts Official Data, Sports Betting Tax Issues To Legislature

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Tennessee sports betting

There were two significant Tennessee sports betting topics up for discussion at Wednesday’s Sports Wagering Advisory Council meeting.

The SWAC, however, decided to leave both issues up to the legislature.

The meeting had other highlights, though, including Fanatics getting its TN sports betting license and two fines against Hard Rock and PENN Entertainment‘s Barstool Sportsbook.

Official league data rule could drop

The SWAC heard from SuperBook and Gamewise‘s Betly that neither sportsbook found Genius Sports‘ exclusive NFL data to be sold at a “commercially reasonable” rate. Genius, naturally, argued that its terms are reasonable.

Tennessee is the only state that requires official league data for in-play bets without a league requesting it, SWAC Executive Director Mary Beth Thomas told the council. That could change this legislative session, which ends May 4.

“I think the bottom line here is that these are highly sophisticated tech companies that are engaged in the complex business of sports wagering. Many sportsbooks are using Genius Sports for data throughout the country, even in states that do not make mention of official league data. This tells me that there are some operators that believe those services are very worthwhile to their business.

“On the other hand, we have two experienced operators that do not believe they need the services offered by Genius. This tells me there might be other viable options.”

Thomas’s suggestion is for the legislature to look at removing the requirement for official league data: “In other words, let the market sort out what is commercially reasonable.”

Will Tennessee sports betting taxes change?

Another issue Thomas found the legislature better suited to fix is the long-standing issue of Tennessee’s mandatory 10% hold.

Operators not meeting the 10% threshold have cost the state of Tennessee $22.5 million in taxes for 2021 and 2022 combined, she said. Councilmembers made it clear to Thomas that they do not want to see this continue, she added. Nine operators out of the 11 live in 2022 failed to hold 10%.

Thomas spoke with legislative leaders and let them know the industry is willing to talk about and work on a legislative fix. That led the council to table discussion about potential fines and violations for those nine operators until after the session if the legislature does not make any changes.

Fanatics joining TN sports betting ‘shortly’

It looks like Fanatics Sportsbook could launch its mobile app for the first time in Tennessee.

Alex Smith, VP of regulatory affairs, said Fanatics should launch in Tennessee “very, very shortly after this meeting.” The SWAC quickly followed with its application approval for Fanatics’ TN sportsbook license.

So far, Fanatics’ only launch is an in-person sportsbook at the Washington Commanders stadium in Maryland.

Barstool offered illegal prop bets

Barstool Sportsbook was fined $92,000 by the SWAC for illegal college football prop bets accepted over a nearly two-month period.

The bets were allowed in the state after a change in platform provider Kambi‘s offer management tools, according to Thomas. Barstool self-reported n December the 184 illegal bets taken between Sept. 22 and Nov. 19.

While the issue started with a change from Kambi, it was ultimately a breakdown in Barstool’s internal controls to manually monitor its offerings, SWAC Information Technology Auditor Travis Moody said.

The 184 bets totaled $12,957.37 in handle.

Details of Hard Rock violations

Hard Rock was fined $70,000 total for two separate types of violations.

The first came when an investigator for the SWAC realized he could deposit funds into his Hard Rock Sportsbook account with a credit card. Credit card deposits are illegal in the state.

A further investigation showed there were six credit card deposits over five accounts since Hard Rock’s September launch.

The same investigator found he was being geolocated incorrectly when he logged into the Hard Rock Sportsbook from his laptop. The geolocation suggested the investigator was in Mississippi at the time.

Three renewals approved

Bally’s, Betly and SuperBook had their Tennessee sports betting licenses renewed at Wednesday’s meeting.

Bally’s was approved to open Bally Bet nearly a year ago by the SWAC but has not launched yet. Thomas said the it is expected that Bally Bet will go live in the state eventually.

Launching in Tennessee may not be at the top of Bally’s list right now. The company admitted mistakes in its acquisitions concerning sports betting, taking a more than $460 million impairment charge mostly related to the purchase of the Bet.Works platform and daily fantasy sports site Monkey Knife Fight.

Monkey Knife Fight ended operations Tuesday.