Tennessee Sports Betting Rules Spark Controversy

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Almost 9 months after the bill legalizing online sports betting in Tennessee has become law, even without the explicit consent of the state Gov. Bill Lee, the state regulatory body, the Tennessee Lottery is still to approve final rules for licensing and operation, and its latest approach to seek industry expert opinion by opening the subject for public discussions brought up some criticism from professional sports leagues, players’ unions and major gambling companies regarding the proposed rules.

Cap on Winnings

One of the rules that has most critics, among which Caesars was the 85% cap on annual winnings, the main argument being that such a limit on the payout would create a significant disadvantage for the players who would most likely look for other alternatives in the neighboring states and even redirect money towards illegal operators.

No Ties in Parlay Bets

Another group of critics, with DraftKings the most prominent among them, expressed their opposition to the proposal regarding a multiple bet, a parlay, where a total bet loss is declared if only one of the events in it is a tie, strongly arguing that, as there is no such a requirement in any other gambling jurisdiction, this rule would create confusion and would be very frustrating for players.

No Single Bets

The PGA Tour raised the issue that banning bets on an occurrence determinable by one person or one play could altogether prohibit bets on individual sports, including golf, expressing its belief that such individual players bets can be offered legally, and any attempt to prohibit something the market demands will backfire by fuelling the illegal market and creating outflows from the legal operators.

Marketing Restrictions

Another widespread concern caused the requirement for lottery approval 30 days in advance for all advertising and marketing materials, as from the operators’ point of view it is logistically impossible to adhere to this rule due to the fact that some game match-ups are not determined very long in advance, with the American Gaming Association /AGA/ expressing an opinion that such a requirement would be impractical and create difficulties.

Fees

Fees were among other subjects criticized, with the consensus being that $750,000 Class I license fee is too steep even for the established online operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel, some opinions going even further to suggest that such amounts would deprive the industry from profit.

League Data

There were topics that created opposing comments, though, with the players’ unions, MLB, NBA and PGA Tour all approving the requirement for sports betting operators to use official league data, but one of the operators who already has deals with the leagues, William Hill, pointing out to a federal court ruling that such data is public information.

Was Anonymity Necessary?

The period for public comments has already been closed and, ultimately it is the Tennessee Lottery to decide on the final rules, but the question why the agency decided to block the identity of most of the comments is still hanging unanswered in the public space.

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