New TN Sports Betting Regulator Works To Ease Lottery-Caused Backlog

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TN sports betting

Tennessee‘s Sports Wagering Advisory Committee is the regulator of TN sports betting as of Jan. 1. It has plenty to tackle already following months of inaction by its predecessor.

The SWAC took over the job previously done by the Tennessee Education Lottery after legislation calling for the change passed in 2021.

TEL CEO Rebecca Hargrove said in May the organization was “elated” with the legislation that facilitated the transition. She also told the SWAC the Lottery did not have to process any more applications until the new regulator took over this year.

Tennesssee process ground to a halt

That seems to be what happened, at least on the operator side. The SWAC adopted five applicants that want to launch TN sportsbooks:

An unspecified sixth operator is sending another application via FedEx, Executive Director Mary Beth Thomas said.

Some TN sports betting applications from May

Two of those applicants – Bally Bet and Fubo – sent in their applications last May.

Those two will be processed first since they waited around seven months. When asked whether there was a deadline set by statute on how quickly applications must be processed, Thomas noted there is a 90-day window for completed applications.

She was unsure if any determination of completeness was issued for the applications by the TEL.

The TEL received Gamewise and SuperBooks applications in November. Thomas did not mention when ZenSports submitted its application.

Super Bowl the goal, might not be reached

Chairman Billy Orgel asked the obvious question about whether these sportsbooks will be live for Super Bowl betting:

“Do you anticipate, Mary Beth, stretching past, like, February, till they’re all approved? Meaning past the Super Bowl? I was just curious because I’m sure … that’s a big wagering moment.”

Thomas offered little certainty: “We are doing everything we can to approve as quickly as we can. Some things are out of our control.”

That includes issues like a national background check that requires fingerprints, on which the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has to work with the FBI, she added.

TN sports betting hit record revenue in November

Tennessee’s eight sportsbooks brought in a record $36.9 million in sports betting revenue despite a 2.6% month-over-month handle drop to $365.7 million in November.

Operators paid $5.9 million in taxes based on the $29.6 million in adjusted gross income.

December should put Tennessee past the $3 billion lifetime handle mark since its November 2020 launch, with $2.7 billion already bet in 13 months.