Is Tennessee’s Governor Dragging His Feet On Sports Betting Panel?

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Some members of the Tennessee Lottery’s sports betting advisory council have been selected, but the panel is still not filled out yet despite the law becoming effective on July 1.

According to a report from the Associated Press out of Nashville, four of the nine members of the advisory council have been selected.

Former House Speaker Glen Casada, who resigned Aug. 2 amid a political scandal unrelated to sports betting, selected two of his three appointees the day before his resignation. He selected Knoxville attorney John Valliant Jr. to a three-year term and businessman/lobbyist Thomas Lee to a four-year term.

Casada didn’t make his third selection, which means the new House speaker gets to select the third.

Senate Speaker Randy McNally also has selected two of this three appointees to the council, according to the AP. He picked former FBI agent Brian Fazenbaker to a three-year term and Knox County Chief Deputy District Attorney General Sam Lee to a four-year term.

It’s unclear when he’ll make his third selection.

Under the Tennessee sports betting law, state officials appointmenting members to the council “shall strive to ensure” that council members have experience in “the sports industry, accounting, and law enforcement.”

Governor hasn’t made any picks yet

Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, reluctantly let the state’s sports betting bill become law without his signature. He broadly opposes gambling, but he said that he was willing to go along with what the legislature passed.

Still, Lee vowed to veto any future gambling expansion bill that potentially hits his desk.

According to the AP, Lee has not made any of his three selections to the council.

From the report:

When pressed by reporters, Lee said he had been given a wide selection of names and was not slowing down the process even though he has repeatedly said he’s against expanding gambling in Tennessee.

It doesn’t appear that Gov. Lee has any relation to Samuel Lee or Thomas Lee.

The Tennessee sports betting law does not mandate a date by which the members must be selected.

Despite the governor apparently being in no rush to make the selections, state Rep. Rick Staples, the primary backer of the sports betting legislation, told TN Bets last week that he expects that sports betting will begin in January, in time for online/mobile bets on the Super Bowl.

The Tennessee Lottery’s Board of Directors will convene Aug. 14 in Nashville for a regularly scheduled meeting. The agenda hasn’t been made public yet and the Lottery won’t comment about the sports betting process. It launched a website to provide updates on implementing the sports gaming act.

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Brian Pempus

Brian served as a senior reporter and online content manager for Card Player Magazine for nearly a decade before joining USBets in October 2018. He is currently focused on legal and regulated sports betting and online gaming. He's an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner in his free time.

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