Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Action 24/7’s President Tina Hodges, to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, Hodges explained the dynamics of Action 24/7’s new local sportsbook app which would allow users to download it directly to their Android or iPhone enabling them to bet on anything from football to cricket. She explained the excitement she has received from users and how she was driven to provide a locally operated and service focused experience to her customers. Hodges believes, ‘if you win today, you should get paid today.’
Leahy: In the studio with me Crom Carmichael. And on our newsmaker line a good friend of the program. And by the way full disclosure, Action 24/7 is a sponsor of both the Tennessee Star Report and a Tennessee Star advertiser on the TennesseeStar.com. Also, they are sponsors of Dr. K’s Friday football picks. And she is joining us now, the President of Action 24/7 Tina Hodges. Good morning, Tina.
Hodges: Good morning! How are you?
Leahy: We are great. And you know, it’s been very interesting. Back in November first online sports betting became legal in Tennessee. And as far as I can tell there are a couple of sort of international big-time players in this field, but there’s only one Tennessee owned and operated sportsbook and that’s action 24/7.
Hodges: That’s right. We are the only Tennessee owned and operated sportsbook. And we are having a great response from folks. a lot of people still don’t know that sports gambling is legal. We’ve been out and about doing various tailgates that different locally owned and operated bars and grills. And a lot of people still don’t know and they’re very excited to know that there is a local option for them to place their bets. So it’s been really fun.
Leahy: Yeah, and it’s interesting. This was passed by the Tennessee general assembly and became legal on November first. What I find interesting is this. Action 24/7 is scrappy and it’s local. It’s not like the big boys out there that are just, you know, flooding the airwaves with advertisements. You’re locally owned and locally operated. And you have to try a little bit harder I think it seems to me to get attention out there.
Hodges: Yeah, that’s for sure. It’s a lot of money. A lot of money that these international and out-of-state guys are putting into our market. I have some other companies and our family of companies have been advertising on TV and radio for years. And the price increases that we saw this year mostly due to I mean there was a little bit of election fluctuation in there as there is in every election. But the increase in TV buys has just been tremendous because every other commercial is one of our competitors.
But you know, we’re having great success. Every time I walk up to someone and say did you know sports gaming was legal in Tennessee? And did you know you are talking to the first licensee bookie in the United States? Their face just lights up and they email and say tell me how I can download tell me how I can support this local book.
Leahy: And by the way, you know, Dr. K. does football picks here on the Tennessee Star Report. And we had to move him to Tuesday’s before we got Action 24/7 to be a sponsor. He did not like being on Tuesdays because you know things change right between Tuesday and say and Friday. And he is so delighted that you came on to sponsor his football picks. Now we can do it on Friday. And actually, his record has improved since he’s moved from Tuesday to Friday.
Hodges: Well, I’m sure you know, one of the interesting things about COVID and about the whole pandemic is how it’s affected obviously every industry and every individual. But sports has been really unique because you’re waiting right up until I mean kids have in college always had fevers. But you know, if the kid maybe had strep they would just let him play.
They wouldn’t make a college player stay home if he had an ear infection or just these other sorts of things college kids get. But now it is very strict. As it should be. And you don’t know until the day or two sometimes the morning of the game who’s going to play and who’s going to start and that makes it very hard to set the lines in advance and for them to be stable. So we’ve seen a lot more fluctuation in that regard. And in some ways it’s been great for players and in some ways, it’s not.
Leahy: Now you grew up here in Nashville. I think you’re from the Bellevue area. You’ve been a sports participant and a sports fan your whole life from what I know.
Hodges: Yes, that’s true. I grew up here in Bellevue. Went to Bellevue Middle School and Hillwood High School. And my dad bought season tickets in Knoxville before I was born, actually, I think before I was born. But it was when they closed the end zone of Neyland Stadium. That’s how long ago it was and they were trying to raise money to pay to close the end zone. And he actually lived in Neyland Stadium. They used to have a single room there at the bottom of the stadium.
Leahy: No kidding?
Hodges: Yeah, and so I’ve been going to games in Knoxville with my dad and my granddad and my aunt and uncle since I was a kid.
Leahy: Tina, can you walk me through how if somebody, you know, here, that lives in Tennessee and is in our listening audience, how do they go about placing a bet? And then what happens after the process begins?
Hodges: So yeah, you can go from any device. From your cell phone, a laptop, or home computer tablet anywhere you can access the internet. Just go to Action247.com. And when you get to that main page, they’ll get a green button in the middle that says sportsbook. You click on that. And if you are on a mobile device, it’ll detect what type of device you’re on. So if you’re on an Android it will automatically give you a download through your Android device.
And if you are on an Apple device, it will automatically give you a download for iPhone. And so you put that app on your phone. Pick a name for yourself. I like to call those people’s handle. They just like to pick and find names. I’ve seen lots of lots of Nash this and Nash that and lots of people with Hillsboro in their names. They tend to pick names of where they’re from or a combination of their last name.
I mean people are coming up with some fun name for themselves. So you just enter and register yourself and make a deposit. You can either make a deposit to fund your account and you can do it electronically right there on your device. Or you can do it in cash. That’s one of the unique things about Action 24/7 is we have a partnership with over 100 retail locations in Tennessee where you could go in and make your deposit in cash. So if you don’t want to link it to your bank account, that’s okay. We understand that. You can do it in cash. And then you’re ready to go.
You just pick the teams and the game you want. And the menu is very easy to use. We realize that sports gambling is new in the United States. And if you haven’t been flying back and forth to Las Vegas, you haven’t seen an app like this. You don’t know what these games are supposed to look like. So we wanted to make it very easy for people to understand and especially first-time betters.
Carmichael: Can you only bet on sports or can you bet on the Georgia Senate race?
Hodges: Oh gosh – you know I’d like to put some money on that myself! But we can only bet on sanctioned sporting activity here in Tennessee. And that was part of our legislature that put that in. And then there are a few regulations there. They could only be sanctioned sports in college games. There are no prop bets which means you can’t bet on an individual player to do an individual thing.
Like I think this player will fumble in the third quarter. Because they’re just too high of a risk that somebody could get to those college players and influence them. And so we can do that in pro, but we can’t do it in college. And then as far as horse races or dog races, there are no live animal bets. Rodeo is different because you’re betting on the rodeo cowboy and you’re not betting on the animal. So it’s really interesting. I’ve learned a lot.
Leahy: That is interesting. So typically you could bet on football games, NFL, and college. Basketball games, baseball games, and rodeo. What else can you bet on?
Hodges: We’ve had a lot of soccer bets. You know Nashville is very international and we’re seeing some cricket action.
Leahy: Cricket?! (Chuckles)
Hodges: Yes. You know we forget that everybody has their own culture and they enjoy their own favorites sports. So obviously there is football, basketball, and baseball. But now there’s a generation of kids that all grew up playing soccer. And so 20 years ago soccer was sweeping all across little leagues. So now all of those kids have grown up now and they’re over 21 in Tennessee and enjoying soccer with the new Nashville Soccer Club. People are enjoying that. And like I said cricket and there is a little tennis out there. Golf. We had some golf action a few weeks ago. So people are excited and they are spreading it around.
Carmichael: When you bet on something like soccer since that game is so low scoring, how do they do the spread on the soccer game?
Hodges: You know, I think people tend to bet but you’re right it is low-scoring but there are other bets in the soccer game. Like those prop bets that I was talking about and so people bet those.
Leahy: Is football the most popular right now to bet on?
Hodges: Oh, by far. NFL and college right now are by far the most popular. And of course, in Tennessee, we’re getting the most action on the Tennessee Vols games and the Titans games. But you know, we have huge Alabama groups here and huge Auburn fans. Al the SEC schools draw students from Tennessee. So then they become lifelong fans and they like to gamble on there. And the alumni like to gamble on their college. So we will get a lot of SEC activity too.
Leahy: Very interesting. And now so let’s say you want to bet on a game, when do you lock that in? Like if the game is on Saturday and if it’s a college game on Sunday, when do you have to place the bet?
Hodges: Well, you can place your bet as early as the lines come out. But you could place it up today for Saturday. A lot of people may say I like the line on this. Meaning it’s something that I expect to happen. Or I’m not going to bet on that. I don’t like the lines yet. And so, you know people think that as it gets closer to the event the lines may move closer to what’s actually going to happen. So some people wait. But as long as you place your bet before the event starts, that is the key.
Leahy: Before the event starts.
Hodges: I used to go to Vegas a lot and people are running up to the window right before the event to get their bets in. But with the app, it’s so easy. You just click the activation event. And we’ve been to where I’ve been out signing people up. And they say do I still have time to bet? The game is going to start in, you know, three minutes.
All right. Sure. It’s just one two three. So they just click click click straight through the app. It’s so easy. And then they fund their account. We’re matching your first $100. a deposit. If you deposit $100. we’ll match you $100. And they say, “Wow! Now I have $200!” And boom. They bet and it’s so easy.
Leahy: And so okay. So now the game’s over and let’s say you want it. And I don’t know you’re going to make 50 bucks on it. When does that money come back to your account?
Hodges: We pay immediately. Same day pay. That’s the big thing that we have found is very popular with our players and to our knowledge, there is no one else in the industry doing it. It’s a very common practice. But I think because the industry was unlicensed for so long. I’ll call them unlicensed online folks that just hold your money. I think that they think if they hold your money longer you’ll bet more and then you probably won’t get your money back. But we don’t believe in that. We say if you win today, you should get paid today. And so you can cash your money out today.
Leahy: That seems to be kind of a scrappy, you know, startup local idea that makes an awful lot of sense, and yet the I guess the big boys that you’re competing with don’t do that.
Hodges: Well, it makes sense to us. I’ve said for a long time I’m not competing with people and price wars. I’m not going to go out and try to buy as much media as you or spend as much on billboards as you and all those things. I prefer to compete in service wars which I will win every time. I will provide the best service to my customers.
And I’ll outdo everyone. And one of the major complaints of this industry is that you can’t get your money when you win. And I think that’s ridiculous. I mean you won the bet and you should get the money today. And so like I mentioned earlier you can get it in cash. If you would like you can visit one of our cash outlets and get the cash. You just walk up to the window with your photo ID and present all of you know, the information required to get your money in cash. Or you can just put it straight to your bank account if you want.
Carmichael: Now if I want to place a bet on a particular game and there’s a spread and I bet $10. and I win and I’m assuming that that is $10. against $10.? Meaning if I win I get $20. How does that work?
Hodges: Well every game is different in that regard. And so your most typical would be you know, that that you’re going to win 10 percent so you would bet $10 and when you would win 11 but you would still get your 10. If that makes sense. But you know every game is different.
Carmichael: In other words, I’m not betting the odds so that I will win a game. There are spreads involved in each game also correct?
Hodges: Yes. I’m looking at the site. I wish I could show them to you. You can see the numbers right there on the site. So you have for instance a game and you’ll see the spread. The total points over and under and the money line. So you’ll see all that right there in front of you. If you bet $100. you’ll win. You are betting $100. to win or whatever. We tried to make it so clean so everyone can see if they want to bet the over and under or the money line. It’s very clean.
Leahy: Tina Hodges, President of Action 24/7. We salute a scrappy Tennessee-based startup that’s taking on the big boys.
Hodges: Thank you!
Leahy: Action 24/7. Action247.com on the web.
Listen to the full third hour here:
– – –