Tennessee Lottery Approves Sports Betting Licenses, But Only For Vendors

Posted on July 6, 2020

News of the Tennessee Lottery approving four licenses pertaining to sports betting is likely enough to excite fans in the state. There’s no reason to get overly enthused just yet, however. The first approvals are merely for sports betting vendors.

One marketing firm and three media affiliates are now approved to operate in the Volunteer State. While the status of operator licenses is still unknown, it’s an encouraging sign.

Who are the four sports betting vendors to break the ice?

Just prior to the holiday weekend, the TN Lottery got some work in. The license approvals represent the first major movement on rolling out legal sportsbooks since the board approved regulations in April.

Vendor licenses, other than providing more revenue for the state, serve a larger purpose. They act to discourage money-laundering and match-fixing schemes. The first four licensees are:

  • Mark Knight
  • Media Players US LLC
  • Sports Betting ST, LLC, dba SBST
  • Wedge Traffic Ltd., dba Wedge Traffic Inc.

Of those four, all but Media Players is an affiliate media company. Such operations produce internet content that directs visitors to online sportsbooks in exchange for fees.

Media Players is a traditional marketing firm with an emphasis on the sports entertainment industry. It will no doubt look to help future Tennessee sports betting app operators gain a significant market share.

Speaking of future operators, this is just the latest sign to point toward the first operator license being announced soon.

Signs toward operator approvals in the near future

Approving licenses for sports betting is one of those things that gets easier with practice. At the last Tennessee lottery board meeting, Chair Susan Lanigan shared that the lottery had received 12 complete vendor applications.

The status of the other eight, along with whether the lottery has since received more, is uncertain. Now that the ball is rolling, however, more approvals could come quickly.

The recent hire of Danielle Boyd to lead the charge in this department could further speed up the process. Boyd has experience in sportsbook regulation, something the lottery previously lacked.

Perhaps the greatest indicator that the lottery might soon get busy is the inevitable march of time. In order to have legal books up and running when the next college football and NFL seasons begin, it’s in the lottery’s best interest to approve operator licenses soon.

During the board’s meeting last month, Lanigan stated three potential operators had submitted parts of their applications. It’s possible that the approvals granted today may inspire more action on those fronts if they are still partially outstanding.

It could also have a snowball effect of drawing more operator applications to the state. That’s all still unofficial. Four vendors are now approved, and hopefully for Tennessee residents, they are just the first of a steady stream of approvals to come.

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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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