The Rocky Top Gamble

The Volunteer State is primed to join the growing lists of states that offer legal sports betting in the US following PASPA being shut down last year. Despite heavy objections and a personal disdain, the Tennessee governor did exactly as he said he would, and allowed the bill to become law without his signature. The bill officially takes effect on July 1st at which point the TN Lottery can begin enacting their various rules. Official launch can potentially hit before the end of 2019 but I would be surprised if it is not stretched out into 2020 before launch. The rollout has a lot to dislike in comparison to other states but there are a few things worth noting. Let's take a look at some of the key points for The Volunteers States foray into legal sports betting

Where Will It Be

For local players, the answer is everywhere within the state that has access to the internet. Tennessee is the first state to legalize gambling that will only accept wagers via internet websites and online wagering apps. That's right, there will be no local casino sportsbooks to cash tickets at the window, it will all be done online. Tennessee currently has no casinos in the state and I have not seen any plans to implement any in the near future. 

New Hampshire: Finally?

While this may seem like a big deal it's really not a huge one with initial marketing exception. People nowadays are constantly with and in their phones so firing wagers from the phone should not be a big deal. University of Memphis professor of sports commerce, Cody Havard, is quoted as saying "The Fact that it would be online or mobile only would be further attractive to especially the younger consumer because everyone is on their phone now anyway." Geo-technology will limit wagers to people who are physically within the borders of the state. 

Who Will Offer The Bets

That is the big question. And the answer is basically anyone willing to pay the huge premium and go thru the hoops to obtain a license. Sports betting operators wishing to offer within the state will have to pay a $50k application fee, plus a whopping $750k annual licensing fee. Lawmakers set no limits on the number of operators so anyone willing to pay the huge upfront fees will have a chance to take their shot at Tennessee's 7 million estimated residents. 

What Is Wrong With Illinois?

This is really disappointing as you know the excess costs will ultimately fall to the players. The initial bill began with a $75k annual licensing fee and a tax rate of 10%, Those figures fall right in line with the range of what we are generally seeing offered. The final numbers of a $750k annual fee and 20% tax rate will make it a lot harder for entry for operators and substantially limit the value they can offer their punters. Will take someone like Draftkings or Fanduel coming in with deep pockets and a known presence to get things off the ground initially. 

Couple Other Oddities

Tennessee also has put a mandate forcing sportsbooks to buy official league data to settle in-play wagers. My opinion, another cash grab to replace the integrity fee that didn't materialize. 

Tennessee has also enacted a blanket ban on any college prop on all NCAA football and basketball games. This is another example that highlights that many of the people making the actual bills have no real knowledge of the industry. Let's hope at some point a few states start using actual industry experts to help with their states products.

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