TN Bill Would Increase Potential Fines Against Sportsbooks

Legislation in the Tennessee House and Senate would increase some fines related to sports betting.

Under House Bill 133, the Tennessee Education Lottery would be required to essentially double the fines for a licensed operator accepting wagers “from minors or other persons ineligible to place wagers.”

For the first offense the fine would increase by $1,000 to $2,000, for the second offense it would increase from $2,000 to $5,000, and for the third offense it would increase from $5,000 to $10,000.

The TEL always has the right to suspend or revoke a license depending on the circumstances. The bill doesn’t change that regulatory power. The legislation would amend the 2019 Sports Gaming Act, the statute that the lottery was required to follow when crafting its regulations.

No operator has yet been fined for such a violation.

Those increases aren’t very significant to what is already in place. The four online/mobile sportsbooks in the state handled more than $180 million in wagers during the month of December.

Fines for taking bets without state approval

The legislation doesn’t stop here.

It also increases the fines for someone who “unlawfully accepts wagers from another person without a license.” It costs $750,000 annually for a license to act as a sports gaming operator in the Volunteer State.

The first offense fine would go from $10,000 to $20,000, and then $15,000 to $30,000 and $25,000 to $50,000 for the second and third, respectively. The TEL would also be required to impose these fines if it uncovers or is notified of a violation.

With relatively low fines, the online gambling industry has shown it will self-report at least some regulatory violations, compared to offshore sites that are totally unregulated in the U.S.

HB 133 currently sits with the Departments & Agencies Subcommittee in the House for consideration. The companion bill in the Senate is SB 272.