Online sports betting in Tennessee has been legalized for several months now. However, Tennessee residents cannot place a sports wager on a Tennessee-based sportsbook just yet. The regulatory process is very complex, which is why we’ve provided a timeline to get you up to speed on the current state of Tennessee sports betting and pinpoint when we can expect online sports wagering to officially launch.
July 2016: Daily Fantasy Sports Bill
In July 2016, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam began the path to sports betting legalization by signing the Daily Fantasy Sports bill. At the time, Tennessee was the third state to sign this bill into law.
FanDuel’s Cory Fox weighed in, “More than one million fantasy players in Tennessee now know that their right to play fantasy sports is safeguarded and that smart consumer regulations are in place to protect them on all fantasy sites operating in the state.”
With this move, the Tennessee government proved to be much more progressive compared to other southern states- a promising sign for things to come.
May 2018: Repeal of PASPA
In May 2018, The United States Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the piece of legislation that prohibited states from regulating and implementing sports betting.
This brought the issue to the state level. Individual states had the freedom to permit sports wagering within their borders. With Haslam out and Governor Bill Lee (who adamantly opposes the idea of sports betting) in office, Tennessee faced an uphill battle.
July 2019: Tennessee Legalizes Online Sports Betting
This past summer, the Tennessee legislature legalized sports betting in both the House and the Senate. The bill became law without the signature of Lee. The Tennessee government’s reasoning was based on a projection of $50 million in annual revenue generated by the sports betting industry.
The passing of the legislation came with certain conditions, including a $750,000 annual license fee for operators, a 20% tax on online sports gambling revenue, and a mandate that sports betting operators must acquire official data to field live bets.
This last provision represents another hurdle potential vendors must overcome before establishing a Tennessee operation. Professional sports leagues provide their official data at a price, which is the primary way these leagues profit off the sports betting industry. With official data, sports betting consumers can be assured they are making an informed decision based on all official information available. As live in-play betting increases in both popularity and profitability, hopeful Tennessee operators must purchase this data before they are up and running. This process takes time.
Furthermore, regulatory responsibilities for Tennessee sports betting were assigned to the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. Its board was tasked with establishing the rules and regulations surrounding Tennessee sports betting.
Spring 2020: Projected First Legal Sports Wager Placed
As of now, there are 18 states that have legalized sports betting to some extent. Tennessee is the only state to limit legalization to online and mobile sports wagering. Tennessee has certainly adopted a conservative approach to the process of rolling out sports betting, which explains why the first online bet has still not been placed five months after the legalization bill was signed.
Representative Rick Staples, who was one of the political leaders in the legalization effort, describes this as a positive. “Tennessee is ahead of the curve and setting a standard with this piece of legislation,” he said. “We’re leading the nation in interactive, online and mobile sports betting, especially in the Southeast region.”
As the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation continues to iron out its regulatory policies, don’t expect to place your first online bet until the spring of 2020. We will keep you up to date with the latest news surrounding these developments as we enter the new year.
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