A Lottery Commission Board in Tennessee that was appointed back in November to create the state's online betting rules. However, after receiving more feedback than anticipated from a period of public comment, they have requested a delay after being pushed back four times already.
Tennessee Does Not Have a Model to Follow
To understand why there have been so many delays with drafting the rules for the Tennessee legal sports betting market, you must first understand how unique it is in nature. Tennessee is the only state that will have a mobile only sports betting market. No casinos, no brick and mortar sportsbooks or kiosks. Tennessee doesn’t even have a gaming commission so to say they are doing this from the ground up with no model to follow is an understatement.
For that reason, they are proceeding with a heightened level of caution. "We are the only state that has enacted a statute like this that is solely mobile sports betting," said Susan Lanigan who is the Lottery Board Commission Chair. "…there's not a model out there that we can easily follow. So, to a large degree, we're having to figure this out from scratch. So, it does take time."
Payout Cap for Winners a Major Concern
From the moment the original rules were proposed, there was always one major point of contention. The 85% payout cap for winners was seen as being far too low. The payout cap can also be seen as a 15% hold for sportsbooks. However, you want to look at it, there seems to be sufficient discussion about the number that we could see it moved to somewhere closer to 90%. There have been calls for it to be removed altogether but that remains to be seen.
I am encouraged we are making progress," said Council member Tom Lee. Lee is a lobbyist for the Frost Brown law firm. "I wish we hadn't been so delayed, but that is now past. What counts is what we do next, and I am convinced the time we take in the next 60 days to get this right will be worth it for players, licensees and the state." Other than the cap for winners, another point of contention was the proposed rule that would make a parlay a loss if one of the wagers ends in a tie. In every other state with a legal sports betting market, if one of the wagers in a parlay ends in a tie, that wager becomes null, the odds get revised accordingly and the parlay continues. Considering the immense popularity of parlay wagers, this is something that will probably need to be revised as well just to keep up with industry standards.
Launch to Be Delayed Until End of Summer
With the news that there will be another delay, the launch of Tennessee's mobile only sports betting market will probably be delayed until late summer. The application process has not even been opened as yet so late summer might even be too early. Of course we should expect that lawmakers will try their best to have things ready in time for the start of football season which is the most profitable time of the year.
As frustrating as these delays can be to local residents who just want to get in on some action, having the best possible rules in place are very necessary. You can bet that as much as stakeholders want to see the market launch, they would rather wait to have it done right. So for now, there will be no betting on March Madness 2020 in Tennessee which is right in the heart of SEC country. The delays might be frustrating but the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation who are the ones in charge of overseeing sports wagering, want to make sure they get things right.