One Tennessee sportsbook, Action 24/7, has been garnering attention lately for all the wrong reasons.
State legislators have even gone so far as to introduce new bills into the House and Senate to curb future infractions.
Here’s a look at the proposed bills that have resulted from the local sportsbook’s recent violations.
Where it all began
Back in February, The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) voted to approve the vendor license of Tennessee payday loan company Advance Financial. This is when Action 24/7 officially began associating with the lending brand.
Since then, Action 24/7 customers have been able to deposit and withdraw from their account at any of the over 100 Advance Financial locations in the state.
Although some TEL board members expressed concern over the approval, they could find no legal reason to prevent it.
However, several lawmakers took issue with Advance Financial’s vendor approval and crafted SB 1029 and HB 0824 in response shortly after.
Then in mid-March, the TEL indefinitely suspended Action 24/7’s sportsbook license over issues concerning credit card fraud, money laundering and proxy betting.
Action 24/7 requested to settle the issue in court, where a Nashville judge temporarily reinstated the sportsbook’s license.
Since then, more Tennessee sports betting bills related to these issues have been up for discussion.
Bills look to create distance between sports betting and payday loans
SB 1029 and HB 0824 aim to segregate payday loan companies and online sportsbooks. Lawmakers seek to prevent high-risk loan customers from accessing a sportsbook account within the same building.
The Senate was scheduled to hear SB 1029 on Tuesday.
Hearings on the bills were postponed the previous two weeks due to the ongoing issues with Action 24/7.
Legislators rescheduled this week’s hearing once again – this time due to time constraints.
During SB 1029’s initial hearing back in March, bill sponsor Sen. Richard Briggs called industry expert Brianne Doura-Schawohl to the stand.
Doura-Schawohl works for Epic Risk Management as the vice president of US policy and strategic development. She explained the problems that arise when operating gambling and high-interest lending in such close proximity, suggesting the combination creates a “dangerous concoction”.
Since the hearing took place during Action 24/7’s unfolding license suspension, the sportsbook’s representatives were absent.
In order to allow for testimony from absent members, the committee ultimately postponed a bill vote.
The Senate State and Local Government Committee will now hear the bill on Tuesday, April 13, barring another postponement.
Senate hears multiple Tennessee sports betting bills
Two other gambling-related bills are also up for consideration during the next Senate hearing.
SB 0588 (HB 1267 in the House) would allow the Sports Wagering Advisory Council to meet independent of the TEL Board in order to adopt new rules and instate penalties.
Tennessee’s brand new sports betting market has already been home to plenty of ruckus. Many members at the Action 24/7 suspension meeting were taking calls from their cars. In addition to that, not all members were reviewing the same documentation.
This proposal would streamline the process of who needs to be present in order to hear and act on issues with sports betting in the state.
SB 1301 (HB 1508 in the House) reduces the amount of time from ten days to five days that a Tennessee sportsbook can request additional information from a bettor in order to properly verify their identity and financial information.
Sen. Jeff Yarbro filed the bill on Feb. 11 – right after the Super Bowl, when Action 24/7’s trouble first started.
Seventy-four player accounts were suspended due to suspicious betting activity. With even more legal issues subsequently unfolding, tighter identification verification requirements seem like a no-brainer.
These surely aren’t the last bills related to sports betting we’ll see in the Volunteer State.
The question is, what new issue will serve as the catalyst for the next bill?