Should Tennessee Have Monthly Sports Betting Handle Reports?

Tennessee sports betting rules and regulations hit the table last week in draft form, and there’s a ton in them. The Tennessee Education Lottery is currently accepting feedback from the public, as well as industry stakeholders, before the rules and regs are potentially adopted in January.

Under the draft of the rules, the public could potentially not see sports betting handle/revenue reported monthly. Lotteries across the country issue annual reports, and that’s potentially where the information for public consumption on Tennessee sports gambling would be. Most other states that have legal sports gambling within their borders do monthly public reports.

Thanks to monthly reports, the public is able to see how one state’s handle compares to another’s.

Tennessee sports betting will be online/mobile only, as it doesn’t have a commercial casino industry. It’s expected to launch by mid-2020. The state made sports betting legal this past summer.

In addition to the rules and regulations, the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act states that handle reports are due no later than Jan. 15 of each year.

State projections

There are some benefits to monthly handle/winnings reporting.

First, it can help serve as marketing for Tennessee’s industry. The state is expecting millions of its tourists to engage in sports betting annually, and monthly handle/revenue reports do help promote the market. For better or worse, bettors, located in the state or elsewhere, can have FOMO if they read or hear about all the action taking place in the Tennessee legal market. It help can the state’s legal market gain an even greater upper hand on the unregulated offshore online gambling platforms.

Monthly handle/revenue would be reported widely, helping put (and keep) the spotlight on the state’s regulated market after apps launch and the buzz wears off.

Secondly, it creates transparency. There are projections for the state’s market (nearly $4 billion in annual handle) that need to be validated and monthly reports help analysts monitor the progress. Tennessee’s market is the first of its kind because of the lack of a retail component, so information on the success or challenges for that market could benefit the public and industry as a whole. It’s also helpful to know which sports betting companies are doing well and which ones aren’t. For those concerned with problem gambling in Tennessee under regulated sports wagering, monthly handle figures, as well as revenue that gives you a book win percentage, are useful for understanding how much of the activity is going on.

Assuming it’s allowed under state law, monthly reports would come at an expense to the state. However, the state is charging a 20% tax rate on AGR and hefty licensing fees ($750k annually).

It’s unclear if the Tennessee Lottery could issue monthly handle/revenue reports even if it wanted to.

Under the draft rules and regs, the Tennessee Lottery will require sports gambling operators to generate daily financial reports that will or can be accessed by the state, but other regulations indicate that for public consumption, that information would come out on an annual basis.