Race Bettors, Hold Your Horses: TVG Suspends Tennessee Action

Posted on October 12, 2020 - Last Updated on September 19, 2022

The popular horse betting platform TVG has temporarily suspended wagering for Tennessee bettors. Its parent company FanDuel’s sportsbook license must be officially approved in the state before betting can potentially resume.

The TVG website is greeting players in the state with a popup: “Warning: We’re unable to offer wagering services to Tennessee residents at this time, withdrawal services are still operational.”

TVG pauses horse racing action in Tennessee

Tennessee residents are able to bet on horse races using advance deposit wagering (ADW). There are a handful of US operators available. TVG continues to hold its rank at the top of that list, offering the largest ADW platform in the nation.

Since FanDuel is in the process of applying for a sportsbook license in Tennessee, its subsidiary TVG has had to momentarily suspend action within the state.

FanDuel Group is the US division of sports betting and gaming operator Paddy Power Betfair. Numerous brands reside within the FanDuel Group stables including FanDuel Sportsbook, TVG, numberFire, Oddsfire, and Betfair Casino.

Other operators pausing Tennessee action

BetAmerica has currently paused action for Tennessee bettors as well. In the meantime, it is directing Tennessee residents to its sister site, TwinSpires.

This is presumably because the horse racing and sports betting brand is also seeking sportsbook licensure in Tennessee. BetAmerica is currently operating sportsbooks in several states – New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Sports betting is set to go live in the Volunteer State on Nov. 1.

As of now, the Tennessee Education Lottery has granted three conditional licenses within the state to DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM. There has been no official word confirming BetAmerica’s application.

Who is TVG?

TVG Network (currently known as TVG) launched in 1999 as a television broadcast station offering live horse race streaming.

TVG ended its partnership with Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) in February 2007.

Macrovision then acquired the network, selling TVG to Betfair Limited for $50 million at the end of 2008.

In February 2015, Betfair purchased HRTV, TVG’s sole competitor at the time, and rebranded it into TVG2. In doing so, it created the only dedicated horse race television network consisting of two channels in the US.

TVG and TVG2 currently have a broadcast reach of more than 45 million homes. The network experienced a spike in viewership at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Interest in horse racing and off-track betting peaked as officials postponed many other live sports.

Paddy Power’s US Betfair company acquired FanDuel in May of 2018. Before the merger, FanDuel had 1.3 million customers in 2017, along with an annual revenue of $124 million.

In 2019, FanDuel’s customer database increased to 8.5 million and annual revenue rose to $419 million.

Betfair created the largest online sports destination within the United States with this merger. As a result, a premier brand across the horse betting, daily fantasy sports, and gaming world was born.

Irish gaming provider Flutter Entertainment acts as the holding company for Paddy Power, Betfair, FanDuel, TVG and a variety of international brands.

The history of pari-mutuel wagering in Tennessee

Pari-mutuel wagering is not expressly legal in the state of Tennessee, nor is it illegal. Because of this, TVG and fellow pari-mutuel operators have been operating in a legal gray area within the state.

Tennessee lawmakers approved the Racing Control Act in 1987. As a result, pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing was legalized and the Tennessee State Racing Commission was instated to oversee tracks.

Proponents initially proposed several racing venues, though none were ultimately built.

Since there were no tracks to license or regulate, the racing commission eventually dissolved in 1998. Lawmakers eventually repealed the Racing Control Act in 2015.

Legislators attempted to create another advisory committee in 2016 to reactivate the horse racing commission. A new commission has yet to come to fruition, however.

Although Tennessee has a rich history of horse racing, there is not much currently happening in the state to reflect that.

Iroquois Steeplechase is a non-profit track in Nashville, Tennessee that hosts a popular one-day, non-betting meet at Percy Warner Park in May of each year. Another non-sanction “outlaw” track called Carril de Memphis hosts a variety of Quarter Horse races annually.

Tennessee could finally seize the reins once the state launches sports betting this November.

Legislators could subsequently jockey for fully-legalized horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in the state.

Photo by AP Newsroom
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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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