Tennessee Governor Makes His Picks For Sports Betting Panel

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who reluctantly let the sports betting bill become law this summer, has made his long-awaited selections to the state’s new Sports Wagering Advisory Council.

Lee selected Kevin Carroll, a law enforcement official in Fairview, Tenn., Billy Orgel, a businessman from Memphis and a member of a county school board, and Hanes Torbett, an insurance industry businessman from Johnson City.

According to a statement from the governor, Carroll will represent “middle Tennessee,” while Orgel and Torbett will represent the western and eastern sides of the state, respectively.

“I am pleased to appoint these individuals and appreciate their willingness to serve our state,” Lee said. “The success of our state depends on engaged citizens and we look forward to working together.”

Orgel is the owner of Tower Ventures, a national wireless communications company.

In a fiscal note on the sports betting legislation, the state noted that “moderate access to high-speed internet in Tennessee” will have a negative impact on the state’s online/mobile sports betting potential. Tennessee legalized only internet gambling.

Tower Ventures has dozens of wireless internet structures in the Volunteer State.

Other selections

Lee’s appointments leave just one spot left to fill on the nine-person panel that will be under the umbrella of regulatory oversight of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.

Here are the other five who have been tapped for the panel:

  • Knoxville attorney John Valliant Jr.
  • Memphis Grizzlies official Kandace Stewart
  • Nashville businessman/lobbyist Thomas Lee
  • Former FBI agent Brian Fazenbaker
  • Knox County Chief Deputy District AG Sam Lee

Term lengths for the members vary.

Neither Sam Lee nor Thomas Lee has any relation to Gov. Lee.

Under the sports betting law, panel members need to have experience in “the sports industry, accounting, [or] law enforcement.”

Timeline for sports betting launch

While Lee’s selections came well after the July 1 effective date of the sports betting law, the Sports Wagering Advisory Council since late August has had enough membership to conduct official business. It’s unclear if the panel has done any work to begin crafting rules for sports wagering.

The panel still has yet to select a chair.

While the panel is still taking shape, the TELC recently began accepting bids from companies seeking to help assess the financial stability of gaming companies seeking market entry, according to Sports Handle.

Everything still looks good for an early 2020 launch ahead of the Super Bowl.