Tennessee’s online-only sports betting program could launch by November 1, and may launch sooner if its operators, vendors and suppliers are ready, according to the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation (TEL).
Previously, regulators were expecting to launch in September, but that timeline didn’t hold. The TEL and its Board of Directors are tasked with approving and licensing the operators, vendors and suppliers that will run the state’s program. The board has not yet approved any operators for the online/mobile gambling system, though the TEL has received four completed operator applications as of Tuesday, The Tennessean reports. These applications will be reviewed by the board pending background checks, according to Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation Communications Director Dave Smith.
The board approved four marketing affiliate vendors in their June meeting and will take up the applications of 19 additional vendors at its meeting on Wednesday. Licensing could take up to 90 days, but the TEL indicated that it will accelerate that timeline. A license will cost $750,000 annually.
Online sports gambling became legal in Tennessee, which has no brick-and-mortar gambling venues, on July 1, 2019. The law took effect without the signature of Gov. Bill Lee, who said at the time he did not believe allowing online sports gambling was “in the best interest of the state.”
Lottery officials approved sports betting rules in April after several months of consideration and the creation of the required nine-member lottery corporation sports wagering advisory council.
Finalizing regulations was challenging for the lottery, as the state went with an annual aggregate fixed payout cap of 90%, the first of its kind in the U.S. Operators must retain 10% of their handle in the form of winnings. Regulators discussed Tuesday how they can enforce that rule, as reported by TN Bets. TEL CEO Rebecca Hargrove mentioned a $25,000 fine on Tuesday, but it’s unclear what will ultimately be decided upon, as other regulators suggested the fine might be too low for a violation of the fixed payout cap.
Approved Tennessee sports betting vendors are Mark Knight, a sole proprietor for an out-of-state marketing affiliate; Media Players US LLC; Sports Betting ST, LLC, dba SBST; and Wedge Traffic Ltd., dba Wedge Traffic Inc.