NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee Lottery has suspended the sports betting license of Action 24/7 due to "suspicious player deposit activity," according to Action 24/7 President Tina Hodges.
Lottery official Dave Smith said the decision was made "to protect public interest." And Action 24/7's license will be suspended until the "minimum internal control standards are in place to prevent potential illegal activity."
However, Hodges said in a statement that the "suspicious activity was detected quickly by Action staff and Action swiftly suspended the involved player accounts."
She went on to express her disappointment in the decision, saying the board "relied upon unfounded fears of future speculative recurrences of the activity, and took draconian action just as the NCAA Tournament is beginning."
“It’s the first time that we’ve actually seen a U.S.-related sportsbook have such drastic action taken against them,” said PlayTenn.com analyst Jessica Welman, "when I heard that somebody was starting a sportsbook from scratch in Nashville these were the kinds of questions that I had: how do you make sure that all of this stuff of a highly, highly regulated industry is getting done? And what we’re seeing is it's a very hard thing to do especially when you’re not a gigantic corporation.”
Representative Darren Jernigan says he’s in favor of sports betting in Tennessee, but only when done responsibly. “Any platform that wants to operate in Tennessee needs to have standards in place because it’s imperative to protect the citizens of Tennessee from any kind of criminal harm through any gaming site,” he said, "I’m not against friendly betting and wagering with cash, with standards in place, but obviously this has failed.”
According to the Twitter account for Action 24/7, the site was taken down around 5:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon temporarily for maintenance. A tweet at 9:52 Friday morning says "we'll be back soon."
Site temporarily down for maintenance. brb. pic.twitter.com/D8SabPqGJg— Action 247 (@TNAction247) March 18, 2021
We know the timing is not great, and we appreciate your patience! We've worked through the night to get the issue resolved. We'll be back soon. pic.twitter.com/l8dzUH9XCA— Action 247 (@TNAction247) March 19, 2021
Also on Friday, the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation announced "a special meeting of the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation Board of Directors" was to be held at 2:00 p.m. The announcement was made less than two hours in advance of the meeting.
The suspension comes during a busy time for sports betting sites with March Madness in full swing. This is the first year fans in Tennessee have been able to place online sports bets during the tournament.
Read Smith's full statement below:
"Due to exigent circumstances, the risk to the integrity of sports wagering in Tennessee and to protect public interest, today the Sports Wagering Committee and the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Education Lottery voted to ratify and continue the temporary suspension of Tennessee Action 24/7 LLC’s sports gaming operator license. The license is suspended until Lottery staff receives sufficient verification that minimum internal control standards are in place to prevent potential illegal activity."
Read Tina Hodge's full statement below:
"The Board today indefinitely suspended Action 24/7’s sports betting operator license for suspicious player deposit activity. This suspicious activity was detected quickly by Action staff and Action swiftly suspended the involved player accounts. Action instituted additional controls to curb the activity, and no further such activity has occurred since. Yet, the Board relied upon unfounded fears of future speculative recurrences of the activity, and took draconian action just as the NCAA Tournament is beginning. Obviously, we are disappointed in the Board’s decision, but will continue to work with TEL staff and seek all other avenues of relief to have the suspension lifted quickly so that the people of Tennessee may continue to enjoy wagering on the Action 24/7 sportsbook."