How The Grizzlies Will Influence Tennessee Sports Betting

Posted on September 18, 2019 - Last Updated on October 27, 2020

While another vacancy being filled is another step toward rolling out the product, the awarding of a Tennessee sports betting council spot to an executive with the Memphis Grizzlies brings a new dynamic to the discussion.

There are several ramifications to the appointment. Because of that, several questions exist.

Tennessee sports betting council spot filled by Stewart

The law requires Tennessee’s Senate speaker to select three members of the nine-member council. Randy McNally finished that job on Monday by tagging Kandace C. Stewart.

Stewart is the Grizzlies’ business operations and external affairs director. Because of her appointment, the council now has five members in place.

That’s enough for a quorum, although four seats are still vacant. The council could now start meeting if the five members agree.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton still has to select another member. The other three vacancies are up to Gov. Bill Lee.

It’s unclear whether the five current members will wait until the four vacancies are filled. It’s also uncertain when Lee and Sexton will make their choices.

What’s obvious is that a panel member with such clear ties to a professional sports franchise brings intrigue.

The benefits and drawbacks of Stewart’s seat on the council

Having Stewart on the council is great for a few reasons. First, Stewart will allow the Grizzlies to feel they have some input on activity that is closely tied to their business.

Stewart can provide the perspective of such an organization in the state. Her experience should prove invaluable.

A potential downside, however, is that could give the Grizzlies too heavy of a hand. The NBA has been one of the most active leagues in lobbying state legislatures regarding sports betting laws.

Among the things the NBA wanted were royalties from sportsbooks and requirements for leagues to use official data. It was somewhat successful in Tennessee, as the law requires books to use official data for in-play wagers.

Now that the Grizzlies have a seat at the table, it’s fair to ask whether a similar spot will be given to the Tennessee Titans. Lee and Sexton will decide that.

If the five members do start meeting immediately, that bodes well for the timeline. The sooner that begins, the more quickly everything else can happen.

What the council has to do in order for sports betting to start

Although sports betting in Tennessee is now legal, books haven’t begun operating in the state. That won’t begin until the council gives approval.

The council needs to adopt policies for collecting fees, issuing licenses, and other responsibilities like creating a potential self-exclusion program for those with gambling addiction issues.

That activity could technically begin now, which means sports betting could be live in time for a potential Titans playoff run. With Stewart’s appointment, it’s possible the Titans could play a part in bringing that to life.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. 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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