Tennessee Sports Betting Bill to Separate Funding Withdrawn

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A Tennessee sports betting bill seeking to change the funding methods of sportsbooks was withdrawn after it was deemed too broad. The two companion bills HB 824 and SB 1029 are no longer a part of the Tennessee General Assembly’s agenda, and their prospects of approval are doomed for this year at least. Rep. Darren Jernigan backed HB 824, which was returned to the clerk last week, and Sen. Richard Briggs, who sponsored SB 1029, withdrew his measure Wednesday night.

What Changes Did the Legislation Seek?

Action 24/7, the local company, was one of the four sportsbooks initially allowed to launch in the Tennessee market that went live November 1, 2020. In January, the sportsbook got permission to take cash deposits for sports bettors at its Advance Financial locations across the Volunteer State.

Tennessee Action 24/7 and Advance Financial 24/7 are operated by the same owner. Advance Financial 24/7 allows an individual’s sports betting account to be funded by loans from its agency, besides allowing players to pay back loans with the winnings raised through bets made at their sportsbook. HB 824 and SB 1029 sought to bring changes that would not allow these two businesses to work in this arrangement in Tennessee, essentially seeking to prevent:

  • Taking cash from a high-interest loan and using it to fund a Tennessee sports betting account.
  • Allowing loan customers to create a sports betting account in the hopes of betting to pay off loans.

Why Were the Bills Withdrawn?

However, lawmakers felt that the proposals were not specific enough to be allowed further consideration. In addition, Tennessee Action 24/7 also aggressively fought its corner to ensure the legislation does not see the light of the day.

Action’s lawyers told Briggs recently that it’s possible for some of the payment vendors linked with other operators in Tennessee to lend money as well: “Advance Financial denied doing anything different, or claimed actually less, than the other digital gambling sites,” he said. Besides, when asked about how many of its loan customers are also bettors with Action 24/7, Advance Financial did not answer. However, one of those loan customers told Jernigan their wagering winnings were kept to pay off a loan. The customer eventually chose not to testify and Advance Financial denied that ever happening.

Action 24/7 usually tends to promote its ability to take cash deposits, which is apparently a trust-building tone from a reliable operator, but it is not particularly good when the cash is lent at high interest rates. Brianne Doura-Schawohl, VP of US policy and Strategic Development, said, “Gambling with cash that’s being lent at an exorbitantly high-interest rate… isn’t any better or any safer.”

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