A piece of legislation proposed in Tennessee to allow online sports betting is moving along in the House of Representatives. House Bill 1, which is sponsored by Democrat Rick Staples of Knoxville, goes hand-in-hand with the Senate Version sponsored by Republican Senator Steve Dickerson of Nashville. They both advanced on Tuesday on a 12-5 vote by the House State committee. One member abstained from voting. These bills are modifications of a previous sports betting bill that was deemed unsuitable and in need of a complete overhaul.
The original version of HB 1 allowed for both online as well as at brick-and-mortar sports betting. It was previously amended to allow only for online sports gaming and users must be located within the state of Tennessee.
Other amendments that have been added to the bill include one that requires five percent of the tax collected via sports betting to go for gambling addiction programs and treatment that will be offered by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. This amendment was put forward by Representative Rush Bricken (R-Tullahoma).
Yet another amendment, this one by Representative Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville) adds to the bill a list of types of people who will be prohibited from placing sports bets, and indicates a person will be guilty of a misdemeanor offense if carried out. Some of the people who will not be allowed to bet on sports include athletes, owners, sports betting operators, and those with some type of influence over a game’s outcome.
HB 1 will now advance to the House Government Operations committee.
The Senate version of the same bill was also heard this week, and on Wednesday, the Senate State and Local Government Committee passed SB 0016 with a 7-2 vote. The bill will now continue on to the Senate Finance Committee for another important vote.
Several legislators spoke out against the bill, including Republican Representative Chris Todd of Humboldt. Speaking of HB 1, Tood took a doom and gloom approach as he believes that it would cause more issues:
“This bill will create neighbors of ours that have gambling addictions.”
Although there still is opposition to sports betting in the state of Tennessee, this sentiment has been declining with each hearing an amendment to HB 1. It appears that the majority of state lawmakers are finding the recent amendments acceptable, which provides optimism that Tennessee could see legal sports betting by 2020 at the latest.
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