Still More To Do Before Tennessee Sports Betting Launches November 1

Written By Matthew Waters on October 19, 2020
Tennessee sports betting

With Tennessee sports betting prepared to go live in under two weeks, there’s still more to get done before operators can officially launch.

The Tennessee Education Lottery held a special meeting Friday concerning sports betting. It’s not surprising that a state would hold a special meeting that close to launch. Colorado held a few of them in order to get operators and vendors approved for their May 1 launch.

The content of the Tennessee meeting is what left some scratching their heads. Lottery officials took hours to discuss how certain TN sports betting rules are worded to better match up with how the state’s legislation was written.

Most surprising is that it’s still unclear when TN sports betting apps will actually go live in the state. The official launch is for Nov. 1 but considering that’s an NFL betting Sunday that could cause chaos if any issues arise.

Lottery CEO Rebecca Hargrave suggested operators could launch early for a few hours a day to get any issues ironed out. The fact that Tennessee is still in the “could” stage instead of the “will” stage at this point sums up the state’s sports betting rollout.

Taking some time to launch TN sports betting

Here’s a refresher on the timeline for sports betting in Tennessee:

  • May 2019: Gov. Bill Lee allowed sports betting to pass into law without a signature.
  • Fall 2019: The Sports Wagering Advisory Council, comprised of people with no background in gaming, wasn’t filled out until then.
  • November 2019: The first look at draft regulations came in and appeared a bit of a mess from the start. That included the first mention of requiring operators to hold a certain percentage.
  • August 2020: The Lottery announces sports betting will launch Nov. 1. By now, the controversial 10% hold was official. That’s roughly the same time the original person hired to facilitate launch, Jennifer Roberts, announced she was leaving for a private-sector job. The Lottery hired Danielle Boyd, a former West Virginia Lottery director and William Hill lobbyist, to oversee the Nov. 1 launch.
  • September 2020: The Lottery confirmed its first sports betting operators. There were only three, though – BetMGM, DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.

Other Tennessee operators in queue

A fourth sports betting operator, Tennessee Action 24/7, is licensed, but might not launch in time. Amelco, its sports betting supplier, has not yet received its license.

It’ll be interesting to see how the home-grown operator launched by the owner of a payday loan company will compete against the big names. The operator is offering a $10 bonus to new bettors, but both DraftKings and FanDuel are offering $50 bonuses for those in Tennessee that sign up for sports betting accounts before the apps actually live.

There are also three unnamed operators with applications submitted, though they will likely not hit the Nov. 1 launch date.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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