Tennessee SWAC Could Approve Emergency Rules At Early December Meeting

Wednesday marks one month until the Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council (SWAC) takes over sports betting regulatory duties from the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL). 

SWAC Executive Director Mary Beth Thomas has been up front with her confidence that the SWAC will be ready to take over regulatory duties when the calendar flips to January. A few key steps are needed in the coming weeks to ensure the SWAC gets fully up to speed for the transition. 

SWAC needs to approve emergency rules

Perhaps the most important step in the transition process is setting emergency rules. The SWAC will need its own set of rules as the state’s regulator. 

The SWAC rulemaking committee and Thomas have been hard at work crafting a set of emergency rules. The group voted prior to Thanksgiving to recommend a set of emergency rules. The recommended rules, which are similar to the lottery’s current rules, will be shared with the SWAC at the group’s next meeting. 

That meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. CT. 

If the SWAC approves the emergency rules, they’ll go into effect for 180 days. During that 180-day period, the SWAC will work to draft and implement permanent rules. 

It’s worth noting that the recommended rules keep the lottery’s controversial 10% hold rule. The hold provision requires that operators “win” at least 10% from bettors as their gross revenue “hold” or face a penalty. The national average for hold is 7%, meaning operators keep an average of $7 per $100 wager after the bettor is paid. The rule has been in place since the state’s Nov. 1, 2020, launch of mobile sports betting.

Most stakeholders voiced concerns with the hold during a public comment period. Representatives from BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, and TwinSpires all spoke out against the rule. Some consumers did as well. 

The SWAC didn’t budge, however, as the 10% hold remains part of the recommended emergency rules. The council did leave open the possibility of reconsidering that, and other rules, after time passes. 

Key staffers starting work

Thomas made a few noteworthy hires in November, and soon three of her biggest staff additions will all be working for the SWAC. 

Keith Boring, the chief of staff, began work on Nov. 15. Thomas praised Boring’s work earlier this month. 

“He is running point on all of the logistics of the office and additional hiring needs, as well as helping me with some of the accounting and budgeting items that we have to set up right off the bat in coordination with the Lottery,” Thomas told TN Bets via email.

Stephanie Maxwell, the SWAC’s general counsel, started work Monday. Roger Guillemette, the deputy director of gaming, licensure, and compliance, starts in early December.

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