Tennessee sports books must stop banning winning bettors | Opinion

Tennessee’s sports betting apparatus recently crossed the $5 billion mark for monies wagered by sports betting consumers. Over $100 million of tax revenue in our first two years is not a bad start.

However, sports betting in Tennessee will be short-lived or short-changed if we do not put a stop to a troubling paradigm shift that is quietly being orchestrated by some sports books.

Numerous national sports book operators who do business in Tennessee are banning or severely limiting winning sports bettors. This practice reveals the operators are no longer acting as mere brokers bringing together bettors on all sides of a wager, but rather adopting a riskier, more sinister and “thug-style” business model.

These sports books are actually gambling against Tennessee consumers. Instead of a sports betting apparatus that operates like a market and yields winners and losers, Tennessee consumers are all losers. This is not what Tennesseans agreed to and not a road that we want to go down.

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Sports betting shouldn’t compete with Tennessee Lottery

When sports books ban or severely limit winning sports bettors, it fundamentally changes sports betting from a game of skill with an element of chance into a game of just chance.

This puts sports betting in direct competition with our state lottery. Sports books in Tennessee are not licensed to operate games of just chance, as such would be the equivalent of an online casino.

The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, which contributes 10 times more tax revenue to our state than all our licensed sports book operators combined, has a vested interest and a duty to ensure that Tennessee sports betting operators stay in their lane.

Responsibly-run sports books have no reason to ban winning bettors. The role of a sports book is not to gamble against consumers, but to bring together bettors on all sides of a wager and hold the money. Winning bettors are paid by losing bettors – not sports books.

Sports books use the point spread and other tools to keep the betting action equal on all sides of a wager – and charge a fee to winning bettors. The more winning bettors the better, as this enables sports book operators to accept more bets overall. Volume is key for a properly-run sports book – not who wins and loses.

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Without a fix, sports bettors will take their business elsewhere

In a recent survey of pro-level sports bettors who have accounts at licensed U.S. sports books conducted by ProfessionalGambler.org, the practice of banning winning sports bettors is up nationwide over four hundred percent in just the last 24 months.

JV Miller
JV Miller

When word gets out that winning sports bettors are not welcome at Tennessee’s licensed sports books, sports bettors will simply do business with sports books licensed in other countries or unlicensed local bookies.

For Tennessee’s sports betting apparatus – and the revenue stream on which our state now relies – it is just a matter of time before the whole thing comes crashing down if we do not ensure our sports books play by the rules.

The solution is simple: sports books must stop banning winning bettors, stop gambling against Tennessee consumers, and return to the traditional business model of brokering wagers between bettors. Otherwise, it’s back to the regulatory drawing board.

JV Miller is a sports handicapper and publisher of Professional Gambler Newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Gambling: Tennessee sports books must stop banning winning bettors