Tennessee Sports Betting Rules Still Being Debated, Public Weighs In

Tennessee Flag Inside Tennessee State ShapeTennessee is only a few steps away from announcing how a mobile sportsbook will be run and operated in the state, but differences in the rules governing how it will be regulated is causing an unexpected delay in sports betting being officially launched in the state.

While sports betting became legal over six months ago, the rules finalizing how the licensees will operate is taking longer than expected, and its mostly due to differences in opinions. Currently, the delay is finalizing the rules has been pushed back four separate times.

After a set of meetings were held on Tuesday and Wednesday in an effort to lock down the final form of Tennessee sports betting rules, its gaining public commentary.

Public Comments in Response to Proposed Rules

The rule that seems to be getting the most attention is a clause stating that licensed operators would be required to keep a minimum of 85% of all wagers placed. The issue that people are taking with this is that it’s not working in tandem with sports betting, and is instead more similar to a fixed matrix lottery.

Critics of the 85 percent cap believe the percentage is too low, and handicaps winners earning, restricting the amount that might receive.

Robert Walker, Director of Sportsbook Operations for US Booking and veteran Las Vegas oddsmaker, had this insight to give:

“Any cap or in this case mandatory hold puts a brake on competition.  A straight bet with a 20 cent line (-110 on both sides) is a 4.5% theoretical hold.  In reality we hold much lower than that due to line movement.  Let’s say 3% for arguments sake and our return to players is 97%.

Historically books in Nevada hold much less than 8%. Any type cap like this will eliminate large straight bets as well, forcing those players offshore. We don’t quite understand the repercussions of not holding 8%, however, so there may be some room to maneuver.

At the end of the day handle and hold percentage mean very little. Revenue is all that matters. Any cap negatively impacts our ability to seek optimal revenue.

Locking Down a New Model Hasn’t Been Easy

Tennessee is unique is their rise to legalized sports betting, because they don’t have any land-based casinos or a gaming commission to model their rules on.

“We are the only state that has enacted a statute like this that is solely mobile sports betting,” said Lottery Board Commission Chair, Susan Lanigan. “So, no brick and mortar. we don’t have a gaming commission. We don’t have casinos; so, 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.”

The board will continue to put their heads together with legislature on this matter as the process continues. The main hope at this point is that sports betting will be a possibility for Tennessee residents in time for football season this fall.