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  • Two bills in the Tennessee General Assembly would like to name the Sports Wagering Advisory Committee as the regulator for the sports betting industry in the state.
  • Senate Bill 588 has passed in the Senate and is seeking House approval while its companion bill, House Bill 1267, has not yet had its first House committee hearing in 2021.
  • The Tennessee General Assembly adjourns for 2021 on Friday.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee General Assembly ends their 2021 session on Friday with two bills that would change the regulator of the sports betting industry presently sitting in the House waiting to be heard. The set of companion bills has had one move further than the other but both must pass the finish line before Friday if they’re going to be implemented this year.

Senate Bill 588 and House Bill 1267 are measures that would have the Sports Wagering Advisory Committee become the regulator for the Tennessee sports gaming market. Currently, the Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) regulates the industry with the committee weighing in on decisions and the TEL having the final say.

Is There A Chance For These Proposals To Pass?

With exactly four days left in the session, neither bill has been placed on an agenda to be heard. Senate Bill 588 is receiving some focus at the moment as it was passed in the Senate on Thursday but it now sits in the House waiting to go through the proper channels for approval.

Its companion bill, House Bill 1267 was introduced in February and has since been placed in the State Government Committee where it continues to be delayed for a hearing. One was set to happen on Monday but lawmakers decided to put it on the next available calendar date.

With both of these proposals gathering dust in the House as they wait to be heard, it’s unlikely that either will have enough time to pass within the next four days. Should one pass, it would be Senate Bill 588, as it’s already been approved by the Senate. House Bill 1267 would need to get through both chambers in less than a week, an almost impossible task.

Having had the time since February to get on the schedule for a hearing, at this point it’s probably safe to say TN HB 1267 will not find passage in 2021.

The Purpose Behind These Bills

The Sports Wagering Advisory Committee is made up of nine members, all of whom have careers in law, law enforcement, or business. The committee was created when regulated sports betting became an industry in Tennessee. Many believe that they would be the better choice to oversee the market as its sheer existence is specifically for the sports wagering industry while the TEL’s is not.

Outside of that, there have been issues within the Tennessee sports wagering market as of late regarding quite a few violations. The TEL suspended the license of Tennessee Action 24/7 in March after fraudulent activity was found to be happening. That suspension was later overturned by a judge when the sportsbook appealed the action.

There were also mishaps during the Super Bowl among two of the four mobile sportsbook operators in the Volunteer State and the bets that were taken on the game. The TEL and the Sports Wagering Advisory Committee (SWAC) would be undergoing a role reversal should either of these bills pass or ones like it in the future. The TEL Board members would sit in on the meetings and give their opinion (like the SWAC does now) and the SWAC would then have the final say.

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