While it’s very unlikely that legal Tennessee sportsbooks will be up and running in time for March Madness, the rules and regulations that will dictate the market could be settled by then. Two sports betting regulations votes will happen later this month.
The Tennessee Sports Betting Council and the board of the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) both have scheduled votes on proposed regulations. If both approve the rules, that will mark an important step.
When are the two sports betting regulations votes?
The council is set to vote on Feb. 18. The Lottery board meets for the same purpose the following day. While neither party’s vote is bound to the other, the rules must clear both groups to become final.
If either body votes against approval, the Council has to somewhat go back to the drawing board. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition.
That doesn’t mean the Council has to start from scratch, however. Members of either group can make it clear exactly why they disapprove of the proposed rules.
The Council could address those issues while leaving everything else intact. One such issue that might gum up the works is a 15% hold requirement for sportsbooks.
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In addition to making Tennessee less desirable for sportsbook operators, the substandard odds could harm consumer interest as well. Because of this, even members of the Council criticize this particular tenet of the proposed rules.
It’s unclear whether or not the objection to parts of the rules like this will be sufficient to cause either body to hold up the process right now, however. The sentiment may be that any further delay would be just as bad as the flaws in the rules.
The rules aren’t set in stone forever after given initial approval. At the same time, making major modifications after giving them the green light may prove more difficult than changing them before they are approved.
Nothing else can happen until these rules are in place. The state does need to get moving on things like reviewing license applications if it’s going to meet the latest projection.
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The latest information says that the most realistic expectation is the middle of June. That would be just in time for the NBA playoffs.
That could be of particular interest to Tennesseeans because the Memphis Grizzlies are having a better season than most experts predicted. On the morning of Feb. 4, Memphis was in line to be the final playoff team in the Western Conference.
While the sportsbooks will open regardless of whether the Grizzlies are in the postseason, it would help generate local interest in the product if Memphis does make the playoffs. That situation would get even better if the Nashville Predators qualify for the NHL playoffs as well.
Nashville is five points out of a playoff spot with 31 games left on their schedule, so that’s possible. What’s perhaps more likely is Tennessee’s legal sportsbooks going live sometime this summer.
Everyone definitely wants to be up and running before the next college football and NFL seasons. Approving the proposed rules would be a step in that direction.