Tennessee Lottery Answering Dozens Of Sports Betting Questions From Operators

Slowly but surely, the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation is working behind the scenes to implement the 2019 Sports Gaming Act that called for regulated sportsbooks to hit Tennessee cyberspace.

The lottery, which expects to see sports wagering launch in the fall, held a brief 30-minute meeting via teleconference on Wednesday afternoon. It was a general business meeting for its board of directors.

Not much was said about the status of the sports wagering application process, which is expected to result in licensure for sportsbooks this summer. According to Rebecca Hargrove, CEO of the TELC, the agency has fielded about 80 questions from firms interested in the state’s sports wagering market. The lottery didn’t say how many firms have applied thus far or have expressed interest in doing so.

A ‘huge task’ continues

Consistent with previous statements made over the past several months, TELC Chair Susan Lanigan called the implementation of the Sports Gaming Act a “huge task” for the lottery. Lanigan said that in the coming weeks the lottery may need to reconvene its Sports Wagering Advisory Council to discuss “some issues” as the agency enters the homestretch of the licensing and launch process.

The 2019 sports betting law created a nine-member advisory council designed to help the lottery craft regulations and get sports betting, confined to the internet only, off the ground.

It doesn’t appear that there are any hiccups in the process that would further delay the launch of online/mobile sportsbooks in the Volunteer State. Late last year, the sponsor of the legislation said he anticipated the launch of sportsbooks in the late winter or early spring, but that timeline didn’t end up coming to fruition. It took time to adopt the regulations, which occurred in mid-April.

It ultimately didn’t matter that much, as the sports world came to a near standstill in mid-March due to the public health crisis. States with active online/mobile sports betting have seen their respective handles plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some revenue has been generated. The state of Indiana, which is a comparable market to that of Tennessee, saw about $26 million worth of handle in April and about $1.5 million in taxable industry revenue.

Other tidbits from meeting

Despite not having internet ticket sales or eInstant games, the TELC is surviving the public health crisis.

“The lottery is alive and well,” Hargrove said.

Like is the case with many other businesses, lottery staff have been working remotely amid the pandemic.

The lottery’s retail claims centers reopened Tuesday with limited hours, with long lines from players claiming winning tickets, according to Hargrove. Per Hargrove, the line outside the Nashville claims center was close to 300 people.

Winners also have the option of mailing in their tickets.

“Paying our players is obviously an important part of what we do, and that’s going well,” Hargrove added.