gambling

Tennessee sports betting jumps 17% in January

About $211 million in sports bets were placed in Tennessee in January, a 17% increase from the previous month. Payouts were $190 million.

The state’s tax haul was $4.3 million, bringing the total to $9.7 million through the first three months since gaming went live in November.

Preliminary figures show $15 million worth of bets were placed on the Super Bowl, though final numbers won’t be available until the February numbers are released late this month.

For the first three months of gaming, Tennessee sportsbooks have taken $524 million in bets and paid out $476 million. While the law requires payouts to be no more than 90 cents on every dollar wagered, sportsbooks have been averaging closer to a 9% hold.

Here are the monthly betting numbers to date:

NovemberDecemberJanuary
Wagers$131 million$181 million$211 million
Payouts$118 million$168 million$190 million
Privilege Tax$2.4 million$3.1 million$4.3 million

One minute past midnight: Online sports gambling kicks off in Tennessee on Sunday

Tennessee’s sports gaming program goes live at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. The state has approved four sportsbooks to begin taking online wagers within state boundaries: BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Tennessee Action 24/7.

Here’s a release from the Tennessee Lottery detailing the final approval:

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) today announced final approval for online sports betting in Tennessee to begin on Sunday, November 1, at 12:01 a.m. Central Time.

At that time, authorized licensees can begin taking wagers from customers at least 21 years old and physically located in Tennessee at the time the wager is placed.

All four operators are close to being ready to launch Sunday. Three have completed all requirements to launch. The fourth is currently in the field for system testing, which is scheduled to be completed tomorrow, October 31.

“This Sunday will represent the culmination of an enormous amount of work and due diligence to bring online-only sports wagering to Tennessee, the only state in the nation to do so,” TEL President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove said. “As the regulator, today also represents the beginning of a new stage as we establish and support a responsible and competitive program here. We will continue to work with all licensees, registrants and applicants to protect the consumer, promote fairness in sports and regulate this new Tennessee industry that provides critical funds to the state and local governments.”

Tennessee state law permits wagering on sporting events via the internet, mobile device or other telecommunications platforms. The TEL is responsible for the licensing and regulation of online sports wagering in Tennessee.

The TEL serves as the regulator of sports wagering in Tennessee and does not serve as an operator, in accordance with the law.

Speakers seek delay of sports gambling in Tennessee amid questions about draft rules

Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton await Gov. Bill Lee’s arrival for his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Legislative leaders want the Tennessee Lottery to delay the approval of sports gambling rules. Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) wrote in a letter to Lottery Chair Susan Lanigan on Friday that some of the draft rules are outside the scope of the gaming law passed last year.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Ms. Lanigan,
We would respectfully request that the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation Board of Directors and the Sports Wagering Advisory Council delay voting on the rules to implement the “Tennessee Sports Gaming Act.”

There have been concerns brought to our attention that some of the rules, as drafted, may be outside the authority given to the Board or Council pursuant to the “Tennessee Sports Gaming Act.” For example, there is concern that the additional categories of licenses created within the rules aren’t within the scope or authority of the Board or Council under the “Tennessee Sports Gaming Act.” Specifically, the Sports Pool Intermediary License and the Vendor License, and associated fees, are not authorized in the Act.

Please feel free to contact our office with any questions you have regarding this letter,

Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,

/signed/
Lt. Governor Randy McNally, Speaker Cameron Sexton

Casada retains appointment power until resignation

Among the panels up for new appointments is the nine-member Lottery Corporation Sports Wagering Advisory Council, which was created under a law passed this session and allowed to go into force without Gov. Bill Lee’s signature. The governor and the House and Senate speakers each get three appointments to the panel.

Among the potential Republican candidate to succeed Casada, three voted for sports gambling bill (Reps. Curtis Johnson, Cameron Sexton, and Robin Smith), while four voted against (Reps. Mike Carter, Bill Dunn, Matthew Hill, and Jerry Sexton.)

Senate Speaker Randy McNally also voted against the sports gambling bill.

Another panel is the reconstituted 16-member Board of Judicial Conduct. Casada gets four appointments on the panel, one of whom must be an an attorney and three others who cannot be an attorney or a current or former judge.

“I find it just shocking that the disgraced House speaker gets to name anybody to a sports gambling commission and a judicial oversight panel,” said former Knoxville mayor Victor Ashe, a former Republican state senator and onetime U.S. ambassador to Poland.  “I would think the Republican majority would want to prevent that from happening.”

Scott Gilmer, who took over as chief of staff to the speaker following the resignation of Cade Cothren as Casada’s chief aide, told the paper the appointments need to made soon.

“Members of the gaming commission need to undergo a background check and that would take some work there,” he said.

Other boards, commissions, and councils with upcoming vacancies include the TennCare Pharmacy Advisory Committee, Advisory Council on State Procurement, the State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission, the Commission on Aging and Disability, and Energy Efficient Schools Council. The House speaker has the power to fill two positions on each panel.

“My guess is I don’t think the speaker will fill most of these,” Gilmer said. “Probably most of these we’ll leave to the next person. But if there’s some more pressing ones like the Board of Judicial Conduct and the gaming commission, I think he could appoint those. But we haven’t yet.”

Sports betting bill becomes law without Lee signature

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at an economic development announcement in Nashville on March 20, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has allowed the online sports gambling bill to become law without his signature.

Here is his letter to House Speaker Glen Casada explaining his actions:

RE: House Bill 0001/Senate Bill 0016 Speaker Casada:

I am letting House Bill 0001 become law without my signature.

I do not believe the expansion of gambling through online sports betting is in the best interest of our state, but I appreciate the General Assembly’s efforts to remove brick and mortar establishments. This bill ultimately did not pursue casinos, themost harmful form of gambling, which I believe prey on poverty and encourage criminal activity.

Compromise is a central part of governing, but I remain philosophically opposed to gambling and will not be lending my signature to support this cause. We see this issue differently but let me be cle ar: any future efforts to expand gambling or introduce casinos in Tennessee will assure my veto.

Respectfully,

Bill Lee

AG says Tennessee could legalize sports gambling without constitutional change

Tennessee could enact sports betting without changes to the state constitution, according to an attorney general’s opinion obtained by the Daily Memphian’s Sam Stockard.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s opinion is dated Friday but has not yet been posted to his website. It states that the General Assembly “may legalize the contest solely through legislative action without a constitutional amendment” as long as the sport is based on skill and not predominantly on “chance.”

The Shelby County Commission on Monday voted to add sports betting on Beale Street to its legislative agenda for the year.

Republican Gov.-elect Bill Lee has said he doesn’t favor expanding gambling in the state.

Slatery’s opinion was written in response to a question by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), who has said he is interested in pursuing legislation on sports gambling next session. Rep. Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) has already filed a bill seeking to allow sports betting.

Slatery’s opinion says betting would involve only “actual sporting events,” and not fantasy sports or amusement devices.