U.S. Lawmaker Contests Sports Betting Loans

By Ben Hamill - February 22 2021
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U.S. Lawmaker Contests Sports Betting Loans

Tennessee lawmaker and state representative Darren Jernigan has declared war on a sports book that offers payday loans to its customers. Jernigan has said sports betting and payday loans don’t belong together on a shared menu.

And according to the U.S. lawmaker, since the bookmaker is part of the same group as payday lender Advance Financial 24/7, this has been precisely what’s been on offer ever since the state first issued a sports betting licence to bookmaker Action 24/7. The group’s shared resources mean gamblers can essentially now fund their sports betting action with the help of a payday loan.

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Shared (Mis)Interests

The sports book and payday loan service are both part of the “Advance Financial Money Transmission Company”, which is owned by husband-and-wife team Mike and Tina Hodges. Big-money donors to the failed Trump re-election campaign, the Hodges describe themselves as being a team “fascinated” with dangerous living and thinking. This, believes the Tennessee lawmaker, is nothing short of asking for something to go wrong.

Jernigan recently told the Legal Sports Report that what the group is offering to bettors is literally a textbook definition of predatory behaviour and loan sharking. It all comes down to being offered a 279 per cent interest loan with which to bet on sports – or gamble. The only difference between what the Hodges are offering, and outright loan sharking is that, instead of getting your kneecaps broken unable to pay, you end up spiraling into a cycle of unpaid loans that mostly lead to financial bankruptcy.

Also prominent is the possibility of customers being encouraged to place potentially “bad bets” in an effort to repay a loan from a registered financial institution, points out Jernigan.

Hesitation – But Not Enough

Although its application for a licence wasn’t approved without a significant degree of hesitation, the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation’s sports betting committee declared itself as ultimately holding not too big a reservation with the approval of the sports book’s request to also continue to offer a money lending service.

What worries Jernigan most about the granting of the sports book licence is that this was done even despite committee member Will Carver’s stance that the awkwardness of an approval of money borrowed being channeled back into sports betting could not be denied.

Jernigan, who now pushes for the rewriting of the rules, recently tabled a bill before the Tennessee legislature that, if passed, would make it illegal for lenders to offer payday loans – or any other form of loan, for that matter – for customers using the same service provider for their sports betting requirements. 

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