The Tennessee Lottery announced a new set of rules for its sports betting industry on Friday. It hopes to become the first state in the US to legalize electronic betting without retail sportsbooks.
When will new rules apply?
The rules will be open to public consultation and reviews for the next 30 days. The Lottery will then decide if it should make changes or go with its original draft. It published the document a day after the Sports Wagering Advisory Council of the Lottery meeting in Nashville. The board has appointed Nevada-based gaming lawyer Jennifer Roberts to oversee sports betting by the lottery. She ran a gaming law firm in Vegs and served in the UNLV International Gaming Center Regulation as associate director. The board will meet on January 14 and may take a final decision about the rules and the timeline of their implementation.
The state will not start license applications until the board approves the rules. According to Knoxville democratic Rep. Rick Staples, who led the sports betting legalization campaign in the state, the first applications could be accepted in spring. He said that he had hoped that mobile apps for betting could be available in February 2020. However, he said that some processes take time to complete, like vetting applications.
The state has to be careful
Staples believes that the state has to get its new regulation right the first time. While sports betting is now legalized in 19 US states, Tennessee aims to move to online-only wagering as a nongaming state. He added,
“We want to make sure that it’s about the quality of the product and not rushing for any particular reason. So, if we are going to be ahead of the game, if we’re going to show other states how to do it, we want to be at least able to do it right.”
Existing state laws do not specify the maximum number of applications to be approved by the lottery. It could give any eligible applicant who passes the vetting process a license on the payment of a $750,000 annual licensing fee. The state will tax operator gross gaming revenue (GGR) at 20%. The lottery will use 5% of the revenue for helping problem gaming, send 15% of the government’s general fund, and use the remaining 80% for the education fund.
Sportsbooks are mandated to use only official league data, but it leaves space for operators that can prove that they could not get official data on “commercially reasonable terms.”