TN Sports Betting Bill That Separated Bets, Payday Loans Withdrawn

Posted on April 16, 2021
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Written By on April 16, 2021

A TN sports betting bill that would prevent sportsbooks from taking bets from payday loan customers was deemed a bit too broad.

Rep. Darren Jernigan‘s HB 824 was returned to the clerk last week and Sen. Richard Briggs withdrew SB 1029 Wednesday night, effectively ending the proposal’s chances in 2021.

The bill focused on preventing anyone with a high-interest loan through Advance Financial 24/7 from betting with the company’s sister business, Action 24/7.

Action 24/7 received permission to take cash deposits for sports betting customers at its Advance Financial locations throughout the state in January. Jernigan and Briggs wanted to prevent two things:

  • Taking cash from a high-interest loan and using it to fund a TN sports betting account.
  • Allowing loan customers to create a sportsbook account in the hopes of gambling to pay off loans.

Action 24/7 lawyers fought TN sports betting bill

Action 24/7 lawyers have been working overtime recently.

Along with winning an injunction for Action 24/7 to end its temporary suspension and making sure the Tennessee Education Lottery doesn’t overstep the court’s jurisdiction on the matter, they also have been lobbying against this bill.

Action’s lawyers told Briggs in a meeting earlier this week that it’s possible for some of the payment vendors linked with other sportsbooks in Tennessee to lend money as well.

“Advance Financial denied doing anything different, or claimed actually less, than the other online gambling sites,” Briggs said.

How much crossover is there?

Advance Financial did not answer questions about how many of its loan customers are also bettors with Action 24/7. One of those loan customers told Jernigan their betting winnings were kept to pay off a loan. The customer eventually decided against testifying and Advance Financial denied that ever happening.

Action 24/7 regularly promotes its ability to take cash deposits. That sounds good on the surface, but not when the cash is lent at high interest rates, VP of US Policy and Strategic Development for EPIC Risk Management Brianne Doura-Schawohl said:

“Gambling with cash that’s being lent at an extremely high interest rate with the money that is otherwise intended to meet basic needs isn’t any better or any safer. Any insinuation that gambling’s a way to pay back a loan, make money or solve financial problems is predatory.”

Sports Wagering Advisory Committee taking a bigger role?

One sports betting-related bill did make its way out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee Wednesday.

SB 588 is sponsored by Sen. Ed Jackson, though Jackson said the bill came to him from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally. The bill would give the Sports Wagering Advisory Committee some real power.

SB 588 as amended gives the committee the oversight to take disciplinary actions against sportsbooks in the state. The committee could also meet and make decisions on its own concerning sports betting without the Lottery board of directors.

The bill moved to the full Senate by a 9-0 vote, though Briggs – who chairs the Senate committee – isn’t sure it’s enough of a change:

“I know that on the Lottery board there have been some questions about the best structure to have on this and there are some members that have felt it hasn’t worked real well. I’m supportive of this amendment but I think at some point in the future we may need to look at a different structure on how we’re doing it because there have been problems.

“We’re new to the sports gambling game but it just seems like there’s been issues that have come up along several lines and we may need to have another structure to look at this.”

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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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