Tennessee Sports Wagering Council Assumes Regulatory Role

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The transition of sports betting regulatory power has kicked off with the Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council assuming its role. Though the eventual transfer of power from the Tennessee Education Lottery takes place Jan. 1, 2022, both entities will work jointly through the transition phase.

On Tuesday, the nine-member SWAC met to discuss the hiring of an executive director less than a week after Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that transfers sports betting regulation to the Sports Wagering Advisory Council.

The TEL had been performing its regulatory role since Tennessee sports betting launched last November.

What Happened on Tuesday?

The first order of business for Tuesday’s meeting was to hire the council’s director. The members discussed the possibility of finding the most appropriate candidate through a search firm. It was the first SWAC meeting held in person since the pandemic began.

Council member Hanes Torbett proposed the idea of having a third-party group providing information on potential candidates, believing the council was not much knowledgeable on hiring someone to oversee Tennessee mobile sports betting. The Volunteer State was the first state with online-only sports betting when it launched with four digital operators Nov. 1, 2020.

Another member Tom Lee supported Torbett’s idea of hiring through a firm because of the quality of candidates they’re looking for.

Lee said that most of the experienced and qualified people are already doing a very good job right now, and it would be complicated to advance their name. “So, there’s a part of the process that is helpful from a search firm that will be helpful like this is what you have to bring to the market.”

Former VP Resigned in March

A new director is required after Danielle Boyd stepped down in March as vice president of sports gaming operations for the Tennessee Education Lottery. The former director became the second executive to leave after a short period of time in the role. Before Boyd, Jennifer Roberts also served for a brief period in the same role.

On Tuesday, the council discussed the new director would be compensated sufficiently so he or she would stay there for a while.

Council to Take Over Completely on Jan. 1

While Tuesday’s meeting was the first step of a months-long transition period, the council will completely take over as regulator of Tennessee sports betting on Jan. 1.

Finding a new executive director is crucial to keep pace with the fast-growing sports betting industry in Volunteer State.

There are six sports betting licenses pending seeking launch by the upcoming NFL season in September, according to Alonda McCutcheon, executive VP and general counsel for the TEL.

The Council will hold its next meeting June 29.

How Have We Reached Here?

The transition of regulatory power to SWAC comes nearly two months after Tennessee Education Lottery handed down the first US sportsbook license suspension to Action 24/7 in March.

The judge found out the regulators did not handle the suspension well and the local sportsbook won an injunction, causing embarrassment to the TEL, which eventually cleared Action 24/7 after finding no fault.

On Thursday, Gov. Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 588 which gave Tennessee sports betting regulation to Sports Wagering Advisory Council from the Tennessee Education Lottery.

Sen. Edward Jackson introduced SB 588 in February, and the bill received concurrence in the lower chamber in May.

The governor’s signature paved the way for the nine-member SWAC to assumed regulatory control of the Tennessee sports betting market. The formal take-over will not take place until Jan. 1, 2022. However, the council will hold meet regularly with the outgoing TEL as part of the transition of power.

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