Beginning in April, one chair in the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) will be empty. Danielle Boyd, vice president of sports gaming operations, resigned last Tuesday, March 16.
The industry expert serves her last day with the TEL this Wednesday, March 31.
In her short tenure with the TEL, Boyd experienced both the start of the booming Tennessee sports betting market, as well as the first-ever suspension of a US sportsbook license.
Tennessee sports gaming sees turnover
Before joining the TEL, Boyd worked as the head of government relations for William Hill and acted as managing counsel for the West Virginia Lottery.
Before that, Boyd was staff attorney for the Litigation Division of the West Virginia State Tax Department. Furthermore, she boasts a law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law.
Boyd replaced Jennifer Roberts, who resigned from the position in June 2020 after a six-month residency.
Roberts became the first head of the TEL’s sports betting commission in December 2019 – roughly half a year after sports betting was legalized in the state.
She then left her position at the TEL to fill a general counsel role at GameCo, an arcade-based gaming and esports betting company based out of Las Vegas.
This is when Boyd came into the picture, joining the TEL ranks in July 2020 and serving a total of nine months on the job.
Those nine months have been a bit of a rollercoaster.
Danielle Boyd catapults Tennessee sports betting to launch
Boyd played a pivotal role in getting Tennessee sports betting off the ground.
Sports wagering was legalized in May of 2019, but it wasn’t until November 2020 when the first apps launched in the state.
Seeing the launch to fruition was one of Boyd’s most notable accomplishments.
Four sportsbooks took wagers on day one:
- Action 24/7
Since then, William Hill and TwinSpires have also launched, and WynnBET TN is next in line.
Strong start for Tennessee sports betting
From a financial standpoint, Tennessee’s launch was especially successful. In the first four months of sports betting, sportsbooks generated $700 million worth of wagers.
That’s more than any other legal US betting market in the same timeframe.
As a state with the lottery as the only legal form of gambling, Boyd offered valuable perspective and knowledge that the TEL so desperately needed when entering this new gambling frontier.
Not only was sports betting new when Boyd entered the picture, it was also unique.
Tennessee is the only state to operate its sports betting industry entirely online, and there is no cap on the number of sportsbook licenses permitted in the state.
Additionally, operators in Tennessee must adhere to a 10% hold mandate or they face a financial penalty.
Boyd was integral in getting this booming market started, and it only continues to grow.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, however.
Operator suspension coincides with resignation
Tennessee’s sports betting legalization process has certainly had its fair share of twists and turns.
Most of them surround Nashville-based operator Action 24/7.
The sportsbook had its license suspended on March 18 due to issues surrounding money laundering, proxy betting and credit card fraud happening on the site.
Action 24/7 waited almost one week to report the suspicious findings to the TEL, which was another key factor in the decision to suspend.
The sportsbook quickly filed suit against the TEL and was granted a temporary injunction by a judge to resume operations for the time being.
The investigation regarding these issues is ongoing.
The operator has also been gaining some attention due to its affiliation with Advance Financial, a high-risk short-term loan company.
This January, the TEL officially approved these Advance Financial locations as deposit facilities for Action 24/7 accounts.
Then in February, Senate Bill 1029 was filed by two state senators to prevent such activities from occurring.
Although the timing runs parallel to these ongoing issues, Boyd’s resignation did not have anything to do with them.
TEL Communications Director Dave Smith offered a statement on Boyd’s departure:
“Danielle gave notice on the 16th for another opportunity and her last day is the 31st. We are grateful for Danielle’s time there, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
Boyd’s replacement has yet to be named, though one thing is certain: whoever is next in line will be walking into quite a bit of action.