Georgia, Kentucky Might Put Pressure On Tennessee Sportsbooks To Launch Sooner

Posted on October 28, 2019 - Last Updated on March 9, 2020

One of the best parts of the Tennessee sports betting law is that it allows more than residents of the Volunteer State to take advantage of the activity. Momentum to legalize in other states could hasten the sports betting rollout in Tennessee.

In Georgia and Kentucky, legislative efforts are ramping up. The result could be that the race to go live is on in Tennessee.

How other states could affect Tennessee’s sports betting rollout

While sports betting remains illegal in all of Tennessee’s neighboring states besides Mississippi and North Carolina, the window for the Volunteer State to take advantage of that could shorten. That’s especially true because of the structure of Tennessee sports betting.

With no casinos present in the state, sports betting will be 100% online in Tennessee. Mississippi’s legal wagers can be placed on mobile devices, but those devices have to be within a geo-fenced location at physical casinos. In North Carolina, legal sports betting is restricted to brick and mortar sportsbooks.

Because of that, Tennessee stands to gain a lot of revenue from out-of-state bettors. The more quickly Tennessee actually rolls out the product, the more lucrative that could be.

Tennessee’s window could be lengthened or shortened depending on what the governments in states like Georgia and Kentucky do. Although they are early in their processes, lawmakers in both of those states are taking action.

Recent sports betting rumblings in Georgia and Kentucky

Georgia legislators are currently working on HR 380. While it lacks a Senate companion bill and it’s too early to tell how much support the measure has, it seems that some action will be taken on it in the next legislative session, which begins in January.

In the Bluegrass State, sports betting bills have been pre-filed in both chambers of the legislature. The bills seem to have bipartisan support, as well.

Adding fuel to that fire, one of the gubernatorial candidates in Kentucky is a firm supporter of sports betting legalization. Democrat Andy Beshear, the state’s current attorney general, wants to expand gambling to fund the state’s bankrupt pension program.

While Beshear’s election prospects remain uncertain, what’s clear is that there is some momentum for sports betting legalization in both Georgia and Kentucky. That could put pressure on the Tennessee Sports Betting Council to spring into action.

What the sports betting council still needs to do

Although the council in Tennessee is still short one member, it has more than the five required to conduct business. An unofficial target date for Tennessee sportsbooks to actually start accepting wagers is Super Bowl Sunday 2020.

If it looks as if Georgia and/or Kentucky could legalize and roll out legal wagering quickly, that timeline could be pushed up. Every day the lottery doesn’t accept wagers means lost potential revenue.

In order for the fun to begin, the council needs to draft rules for things like problem gambling protocols. The desire to reap the benefits of Georgians and Kentuckians crossing state lines could be motivation.

Though Georgia and Kentucky could be months or years away, just the threat of legalization could have an effect on Tennessee. If that lights a fire under the council, Tennessee sports fans should be happy.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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