Are things heating up for sports betting in Tennessee?
The Board of Directors for the the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation is scheduled to meet Aug. 14 in Nashville, the TELC’s first public meeting since the sports wagering law became effective July 1. The state lottery will regulate online/mobile sports wagering in the Volunteer State.
Lottery officials discussed sports wagering at the TELC hearing in May, prior to the legislation becoming law. The TELC recently updated its website to include a “sports gaming” section.
“In its role as the regulator of this legislation, the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation is working to create the requirements and processes necessary for the licensing and regulation of online sports wagering in Tennessee,” said the website. “Information will be posted to this page as it becomes available.”
The TELC told TN Bets that the Aug. 14 hearing doesn’t have an agenda yet. The TELC declined to provide any other update on sports betting.
Under the new sports betting law, the TELC will soon have a Sports Wagering Advisory Council, which will consist of nine members. Gov. Bill Lee, as well as the speakers of the state Senate and House, will each nominate three individuals. Term lengths will vary.
According to a report in June from the Times Free Press, House Speaker Glen Casada, a Republican, is dealing with the fallout of a political scandal, which could muddy the waters for his role in kicking off the state’s sports betting industry. Casada, who voted for the sports betting legislation, reportedly will resign from office on Aug. 2, but not before he nominates his three people to the advisory council. His decision to stick around and select members of the new panel is controversial.
It’s unclear if any appointments to the advisory council have been made yet.
Scott Gilmer, Casada’s chief of staff, told the Times Free Press that Casada’s selections could be made “sometime in July,” assuming they haven’t already been selected. Gilmer didn’t know definitively.
Under the sports betting law, members of the advisory council must be vetted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a process that apparently made it so the advisory council wasn’t formed ahead of the July 1 effective date of the legislation. The law states that terms for the members of the advisory council commence on July 1.
It appears that the TELC meeting on Aug. 14 should include an update on the status of the new panel.
Launch date for Tennessee
Tennessee is a casino-less state, so it’s relatively inexperienced with casino-style gambling. The state is the first in the country to legalize only online/mobile sports wagering. There will be no brick-and-mortar establishments, which was what the governor wanted. Lee also wanted the TELC to be the regulator.
For several reasons, Tennessee isn’t moving as quickly as the likes of Indiana and Iowa, which both also legalized sports wagering this year. The Hoosier State and the Hawkeye State are expected to see their first retail sportsbooks open this fall, possibly ahead of Week 1 of the upcoming NFL season.
Tennessee more than likely won’t be ready in 2019. The state could see betting begin in the first half of 2020, but a more concrete timeline should start to materialize after the members of the advisory council are announced and lottery officials release regulations for the industry.
It was said at a legislative hearing during the process of passing the bill that 10 companies already are prepared to vie for entry into the Volunteer State’s sports wagering market. The likes of FanDuel testified in front of policymakers during the committee hearing stage.
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