Countdown to Launch in Tennessee

The countdown is on for the launch of sports betting in the US state of Tennessee, but there are still plenty of issues to resolve before the official launch, which is scheduled for November 1st.

As part of the last-minute preparations of the launch, the Tennessee Education Lottery has had a special meeting to focus on the details, something that has been notable in previous sports betting launches. Earlier this year, it took several last-minute meetings to ensure that vendors and operators were approved prior to their market launch on May 1.

Surprisingly though, this Tennessee meeting appears to have focused on issues around the wording of the sports betting rules and how closely they match the legislation passed by Tennessee legislators, with these discussions apparently taking several hours.

App Launch Questions

Another issue to emerge from the meeting was whether Tennessee’s sports betting apps will be ready to go live by the launch date. The scheduled date happens to feature a number of NFL games, making it one of the busiest betting days of the year, and there are some fears that chaos could be the result if any technological or other issues arise.

Rebecca Hargrave, the Lottery CEO has attempted to downplay concerns by suggesting that operators would be able to launch ahead of that date, for a few hours at a time, in order to smooth out any potential issues. The fact that such measures are still being discussed at this stage sums up the way that sports betting legalization have developed in the state.

Long Wait

For sports betting fans in Tennessee, legalization has certainly been a long time coming. Back in May 2019, a year after the Supreme Court cleared the way for legal sports betting, and a full eighteen months before the market is eventually slated to launch, the state Governor, Bill Lee, permitted sports betting to become law without his signature.

It took until the autumn that year to appoint the Sports Wagering Advisory Council, and their first draft of regulations was produced in November, which included the controversial 10% hold. It wasn’t until August this year that the Council was able to confirm a launch date, with the first three operators; FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM confirmed in September…

Since then, Tennessee Action 24/7, another sports betting operator, has earned a license to operate sports betting, but there are doubts over whether it will be able to launch on time as its supplier, Amelco, has not yet been granted a license. Tennessee Action could be up against it taking on the big players in the US sports betting market, and is likely to face further competition. Three more operators have made applications for licenses to enter the market, although none of the three are likely to be in a position to go live at the launch date.

The question of the holding figure may also serve as a deterrent. Although at one point the state had seemed set to introduce a 20% hold requirement, the 10% figure is still significantly higher than in other sports betting states. It remains to be seen how this will affect the entrance to the new market when it goes live next month.


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