Tennessee’s First Sportsbooks Gain Conditional Approval For Second Year

Posted on October 29, 2021

One year after Tennessee sports betting launched, the state’s first sportsbooks and suppliers are up for license renewals.

The Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) held a special virtual meeting on Friday, Oct. 29 to conditionally approve the license renewals of four operators.

The committee wasn’t as eager, however, to give the state’s newest operator a final thumbs up.

Four sportsbooks receive conditional license renewal

Tennessee statute requires an annual license renewal for sportsbooks and suppliers. This first go-around, renewal responsibility falls in the hands of committee members Will Carver, John Croslin, and Pearl Shaw.

TEL Vice President Alonda McCutcheon was also in attendance to update the committee.

With the first year of Tennessee sports betting coming to a close on Oct. 31, the state’s four original operators were the first to face scrutiny for a renewal:

McCutcheon advised that although all four brands are in good standing with the TEL, each application remains incomplete. Third-party organizations have yet to complete their portions of the assessment process, leaving each operator with its own unique set of deficiencies to overcome.

These include issues with bond renewals, security assessments, insurance renewals, and key personnel applications.

With those issues in mind, she proposed the committee issue conditional approval while the TEL works with operators to resolve outstanding matters by Dec. 17.

A motion to conditionally approve BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel came first. Action 24/7 was then approved in a subsequent motion.

The committee also conditionally approved eight supplier applications during the meeting. McCutcheon noted that the TEL was late on posting supplier license renewal forms. This led to delays in the process as well as outstanding background checks and financial reviews. However, she noted the TEL will work on expediting final approvals for suppliers.

For others waiting on a resolution, things won’t go as quickly.

Wagr launch postponed until mid-November

The launch of Tennessee’s newest operator, Wagr, was the final issue up for discussion during the call.

Since the hopeful operator is a startup with limited capital, the brand lacks the financial means to appropriately fulfill its current insurance deficiencies.

McCutcheon reminded the committee of one important distinction about the potential social wagering platform. Compared to other Volunteer State sportsbooks, its offerings are limited exclusively to point spread bets of $500 or less.

Thus, its overall risk and corresponding insurance needs might not be comparable to those of other operators.

After being approved this past September, Wagr initially intended to launch at the beginning of November. But since the sportsbook’s full system assessment has yet to be completed, the brand is currently eyeing a mid-November launch date.

Wagr requested that the committee permit this launch with the stipulation that it reapplies for adequate insurance after 90 days of operation.

The committee acknowledged its responsibility to create a safe wagering environment for players without precluding less-established brands from operating.

Croslin noted his fear that the TEL has created an unfeasible barrier for start-ups. He also emphasized the importance of giving brands a chance and commented on Wagr’s impressive application.

The committee ultimately decided to table the issue until the TEL’s subsequent Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Doing so provides Wagr with time to address the committee’s concerns and dissuade members from any discomfort they may have.

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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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