sports gaming

Lottery: Disciplinary action against Action 24/7 is ‘null and void’

The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. has written a letter declaring its unprecedented suspension of the Action 24/7 sports gaming license to be “null and void.”

The letter comes after a judge in April reversed the Lottery board’s decision to halt all betting with Action 24/7 after it self-reported instances of debit card fraud on its platform. The sportsbook is run by executives of short-term loan company Advance Financial.

The letter acknowledges Action 24/7 has proper internal controls and that there is no active investigation being conducted into its practices. Action 24/7’s license is unrestricted, and it can freely transact with vendors and parties, according to the letter.

“The temporary suspension of Action 24/7’s License, and the disciplinary action undertaken… related to the allegations presented by the TEL Staff to the Board at the Board’s March 19, 2021 meeting, are null and void,” the letter says.

Read the whole letter here:

May 12, 2021

RE: Status of the Sports Gaming Operator License of Tennessee Action 24/7, LLC

To whom it may concern:

This letter concerns the status of the Sports Gaming Operator License (“License”) of Tennessee Action 24/7, LLC (“Action 24/7”). On March 18, 2021, Action 24/7’s License was temporarily suspended on the basis of alleged deficiencies involving Action 24/7 internal controls. On March 19, 2021, at an emergency meeting of the TEL Board (“Board”), the Board ratified the temporary suspension of Action 24/7’s License. On March 26, 2021, the Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee, ordered TEL to reinstate Action 24/7’s License, and TEL reinstated Action 24/7’s License that same day.

By this letter, the Board, the Spo1is Wagering Committee of the Board (“SWC”), and the TEL Staff hereby represent and confirm that, as of the date of this letter:

1. There is currently no active investigation of Action 24/7 being conducted by any of the Board, the SWC, or the TEL Staff regarding the allegations presented by the TEL Staff to the Board at the Board’s March 19, 2021 meeting or the adequacy of Action 24/7’s internal controls.

2. Action 24/7’s internal controls and Action 24/7’s implementation thereof meet the requirements found in the Minimum Internal Control Standards.

3. Action 24/7’s License is fully effective; there are no restrictions on Action 24/7’s License; and Action 24/7 is in good standing with TEL.

4. The temporary suspension of Action 24/7’s License, and the disciplinary action undertaken by any of the Board, the SWC, or the TEL Staff related to the allegations presented by the TEL Staff to the Board at the Board’s March 19, 2021 meeting, are null and void.

5. Action 24/7 is entitled to the full use and benefits of its License, including, but not limited to, the ability to freely transact with other TEL licensees and vendors or other parties.

Sincerely,
/signed/
Alonda W. McCutcheon
Executive Vice President & General Counsel

Read the ruling unfreezing betting on the Action 24/7 sportsbook

Nashville Chancellor Patricia Head Moskal on Friday lifted the state Lottery’s suspension of sportsbook Action 24/7 due to fraudulent activity on its platform.

“We applaud the Court’s decision and look forward to working with state officials to ensure public safety and trust in our regulatory system while maintaining an environment for businesses to thrive in Tennessee,” Action 24/7 president Tina Hodges said in a statement. “Thank you to our loyal players and friends across the state for your confidence, support and encouragement. We’ll be Back in Action soon!”

The ruling sends the case back for further hearings before the Lottery.

“We will continue to work with Action 247 to implement appropriate minimum internal control standards that protect the public interest and minimize risk to the integrity of sports gaming in Tennessee,” Lottery spokesman David Smith said in a statement.

Here is the order for Chancellor Moskal:

ORDER ON TEMPORARY INJUNCTION

This matter came before the Court for hearing on March 24, 2021, by videoconference, on Plaintiff Tennessee Action 24/7, LLC’s (“Action 24/7”) Emergency Motion for Temporary Injunction, seeking reinstatement of Plaintiffs sports gaming operator’s license temporarily suspended by Defendants Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation and members of its Board of Directors and President and CEO, in their official capacities (collectively, “TEL”). Participating in the hearing were Attorney E. Steele Clayton IV, Sarah B. Miller, and Nicholas J. Goldin, representing Action 24/7, and Assistant Attorney General Lindsay H. Sisco, Deputy Attorney General Justin Urban, and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Shirley, representing Defendants. Also attending were Tina Hodges, Action 24/7’s President, and Andrew Jack, Action 24/7’s Chief Operating Officer.

Action 24/7 filed a Verified Complaint, with exhibits, against Defendants on March 22, 2021, seeking judicial review of Defendants’ action indefinitely suspending Plaintiffs sports gaming operator’s license under Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-51-328. Plaintiff contemporaneously filed an Emergency Motion for Temporary Injunction supported by a Memorandum of Law. The Court entered an Order setting the Motion for a temporary injunction hearing on March 24, 2021 at 2:00 p.m./central, pursuant to Rule 65.04 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and Davidson County Local Rules of Practice § 19.03. See March 22, 2021 Order. Defendants filed a response in opposition to the Motion, with exhibits, on March 24, 2021.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

The Court makes the following preliminary findings of fact for purposes of the pending request for a temporary injunction, only, based upon the Court’s record at this early stage of the proceedings.

As of November 1, 2020, Tennessee residents are allowed to place online sports wagers under the recently enacted Tennessee Sports Gaming Act (the “Act”). Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-51- 301, et seq. Action 24/7 is licensed by the State of Tennessee ·as an online sports wagering business under the Act. The Act authorizes the Tennessee Education Lottery Board of Directors (the “TEL Board”) to enforce and supervise compliance with the provisions of the Act. Id.,§ 4-51-306. The Act au-thorizes the TEL Board to control the licensing of sports wagering operators in Tennessee. Id., § 4-51-317, -326. The Act also authorizes the TEL Board to promulgate rules in accordance with the Act. Id., § 4-51-306. Further, the TEL Board is authorized to “investigate and conduct a hearing with respect to a licensee” that has violated the Act, in accordance with rules adopted by the TEL Board. Id.,§ 4-51-326(a). Upon finding a violation of the Act or rule, the TEL Board may suspend, revoke or refuse to renew a license for violations.of any provision of the Act or rules
promulgated by the Board. Id., 4-51-326(b).

The Board promulgated rules and regulations under the Act, referred to as “Chapter 15 – Sports Gaming Rules, Regulations and Standards” (“Rules”). The Rules recognize a “Sports Wagering Committee” of the TEL Board. The Rules, in tum, authorize the Sports Wagering Committee to suspend, revoke, or not renew a license for any of the reasons set forth under the Act or the Rules, upon recommendation by the CEO. Rule 15.2.3.A. The Rules grant the Sports Wagering Committee the discretion to revoke, suspend or not renew a license when it determines it is “in the best interests of the TEL, its Board, or the public policy or welfare of the State of Tennessee,” after notice and a right to a hearing in accordance with the Act and the Rules. Rule 15.2.3.B. The Rules additionally authorize the Sports Wagering Committee, or its designee, to suspend a license upon “exigent circumstances without prior notice pending any prosecution, hearing or investigation.” Rule 15.2.3.B. The Rules do not describe or provide for the size or composition of the Sports Wagering Committee, and do not specifically define what constitutes “exigent circumstances.”

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Tennessee sportsbook sues to undo suspension by Lottery

Tennessee Action 24/7 is asking a court to undo a first-in-the-nation decision by the state Lottery to suspend its sportsbook license due to fraud and money laundering, the Associated Press reports.

Action 24/7, which is run by executives of short-term lender Advance Financial, is questioning the regulatory process used to issue the suspension.

According to Lottery investigator Danny DiRienzo, the company self-reported suspicious activity on March 17, which was several days after the alleged fraud took place. In one instance, he said, a player made a $10 deposit into his betting account, which was then followed by 124 deposits with seven cards in as many different names. The account holder then withdrew money without placing many bets.

“It is serious, serious criminal activity, probably in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damages done with multiple real individuals and business victims,” DiRienzo said during an emergency meeting of the Lottery board on Friday.

According to the the lawsuit, company representatives wanted to be heard during the meeting, but the panel “refused to hear their position.”

The lottery’s actions were “an inadequate or sometimes complete lack of review of the evidence, an unwillingness to hear Action’s side of the story, and a rush to judgment, ultimately resulting in a destruction of Action’s business,” according to the lawsuit.

Tennessee Action said the total number of fraudulent deposits totaled about $37,400, of $14,700 has been recovered.

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

$27M in online wagers placed in first week of Tennessee sports gaming

Bettors placed $27 million worth of wagers in the first week after the launch of only sports gambling in Tennessee.

Tennessee Lottery head Rebecca Hargrove said Monday that sportsbooks paid out $23.9 million, leaving them with an adjusted gross income of $2.5 million for the period covering Nov. 1 through Nov. 8. The state’s tax on that amount totaled $509,000.

Of those tax collections, 80% will be deposited into the Lottery’s education account, 15% goes to cities and counties on a per-capita basis, and 5% is dedicated to gambling addiction treatment programs within the state Department of Mental Health.

Most of the betting action has focused on football, with 60% of wagers placed on the NFL and 40% on college games.

Four sportsbooks are operational in Tennessee: BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Tennessee Action 24/7. Hargrove said three more are in the process of applying and hoping to get up and running by the end of the year: Churchill Downs, William Hill, and WIN Interactive.

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