Tennessee conditionally approved licenses for its first three online sports betting operators Wednesday, bringing the state one step closer to its proposed Nov. 1 launch date.
The Tennessee Education Lottery Board's Sports Wagering Committee approved licenses for Betfair Interactive U.S., LLC (FanDuel), BetMGM, LLC and Crown TN Gaming, LLC (DraftKings).
The committee also approved its first supplier application and 26 additional vendor applications, according to a news release, adding to the 13 vendors approved in previous months. It will convene again on Oct. 5 and Oct. 16 to review more applications and additional information from the sportsbook companies that received licenses.
All licensees and suppliers must meet specific requirements defined by the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, which is responsible for oversight of online sports gambling in the state. There is no limit to the number of licenses that can be issued for online sports betting operations.
Brian Pempus, an expert from New Jersey's online gambling platform, NJOnlineGambling.com, said all three sportsbooks have experience in online casino gaming and sports gambling in other states, though sports gambling in many states is itself relatively young.
New Jersey legalized sports betting after a Supreme Court victory in May 2018, prompting several other states to follow suit.
BetMGM, previously known for its casino and poker services, launched its sportsbook in New Jersey in 2018. FanDuel and DraftKings were leaders in daily fantasy sports for "a handful of years" before expanding into sports betting, Pempus said, and the companies continue to be market leaders in states that have legalized sports betting.
"I think people in Tennessee will be very familiar with the companies based on the fantasy sports side of things," Pempus said. "It was a very seamless transition for them to go into real money traditional sports betting in New Jersey."
As of June 9, 18 states have legalized sports betting, according to data collected by ESPN. Five, including Tennessee, have passed recent bills but have yet to see their first bet placed.
Online sports gambling became legal in Tennessee, which has no brick-and-mortar gambling venues, on July 1, 2019. The law took effect without the signature of Gov. Bill Lee, who said at the time he did not believe allowing online sports gambling was "in the best interest of the state."
Lottery officials approved sports betting rules in April after several months of consideration and the creation of the required nine-member lottery corporation sports wagering advisory council.
State law allows online sports betting via the internet, mobile devices and telecommunications platforms for customers 21 and older. Customers must be physically within Tennessee borders when their bets are placed.
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