TN regulators say official data and hold mandate up to legislators to fix

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Tennesse regulators met Wednesday to discuss a series of action items, including measures impacting the use of official league data and the much-maligned 10% hold mandate for operators in the state.

Tennessee’s Sports Wagering Advisory Council (SWAC) did do some housekeeping, including the approval of a sports betting operator license for Fanatics Sportsbook. When it came to the issue of official league data mandates and the hold requirement though, the staff recommended to the committee that these matters were the purview of the state legislature.

Superbook and Betly oppose official data mandate on in-game betting

Betly and Superbook appealed to SWAC to reconsider the regulations mandating official league data for in-game betting. In particular, the two operators cited the NFL data provider Genius Sports as too expensive to be tenable. SWAC Executive Director Mary Beth Thomas explained to the council that part of the problem is that Genius does not offer piecemeal options for NFL betting data, which can drive up the price for operators only intending to use parts of the data package offered.

“I think the bottom line here is that these are highly sophisticated tech companies that are engaged in the complex business of sports wagering. Many sports books are using Genius Sports for data throughout the country, even in states that do not make mention of official league data,” she said. “This tells me that there are some operators who believe that the services are very worthwhile to their business. On the other hand, we have two experienced operators that do not believe they need the services offered by Genius. This tells me that there may be other viable options.”

Thomas said it was a complex issue that is rooted in the nature of the way the Tennessee laws are written. With that in mind, she said this is an issue she recommended the legislature consider acting to revise the mandate.

SWAC Chairman William Orgel agreed with Thomas that the council lacks the authority to address the issue. The two also agreed that changing the provision around the mandate that operators who do not maintain an average 10% hold is also the task of state lawmakers.

Many TN sportsbooks again missed 10% hold mandate

Thomas admitted multiple operators failed to hit this mandate two years in a row and noted SWAC’s past concerns about operators not abiding by state rules. Of particular note was that the state lost out on $11.6 million in tax revenue because of a failure to meet these targets.

“After multiple discussions over the past couple of weeks with representatives of the sports betting industry and specifically with representatives of those who are in that category for two years in a row, I feel competent and have been given appropriate assurances…I believe that the industry is willing to come to the table to work out the details of a legislative fix,” Thomas said.

She added that lawmakers are open to adding a fix to the language as part of a sports betting clean-up bill to take through the legislative process.