Tennessee House Passes Online Sports Betting Legislation

Despite the concerns that some lawmakers have in regards to gambling addiction, House Bill 1 passed on a vote of 58-37 in Tennessee, legalizing online sports gambling. The legislation, which was sponsored by Representative Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) passed without a provision that would permit sports betting in brick-and-mortar establishments. Staples had to vigorously defend his bill against heavy criticism especially after it was overhauled. It was also approved this week in the Senate Finance committee meeting and will now go to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

If this bill is passed by both chambers and then signed by the Governor, it would make the Volunteer State the first state with just mobile sports betting and no physical betting locations. While Tennessee has no casinos, original wording looked at having 50 retail locations spread over the state in addition to the mobile betting options.

The state lottery will regulate mobile sports betting platforms. The state would tax sports gambling at 22.5% and is anticipating around $150 million a year in taxable revenues. Tennessee’s sports betting market should involve an estimated $3 billion per year.

Will Governor Lee Reject the Bill?

In November, voters elected Republican Governor Bill Lee, who is against sports betting. In the final debate before the election, Lee discussed the topic and said he’d work to make sure the legislature didn’t approve the sports gambling bill. In fact, he feels that legal gambling leads to organized crime, and he doesn’t want that for Tennessee. However, the Governor has also said that he will sign a bill if the legislation makes it to his desk. After that statement, he added that he might be open to gambling if there was “local decision making.”

Despite an earlier version calling for local government approvals, those provisions were removed during the committee process, which might make it harder for the Governor to throw in his support, although having the state lottery oversee the activity might help Lee to sign his name. Any support the bill collects in the upcoming weeks might sway Governor Lee’s favor so we will have to see what comes next.

With that said, there are still plenty of legislators holding out hope that the Governor vetoes the bill. One such lawmaker is Rep. Jerry Sexton who publicly stated:

“I hope to God that Gov. Bill Lee will veto this bill if it does pass.”

Sexton went on to criticize this bill and the possibility of its passing by ridiculing the idea of legalized gambling in the state and bellowing that the government is supposed to protect the people:

“If they want to gamble, let them gamble. We don’t need to be getting in the gambling business. Why don’t we set up a casino right out here in the state lobby? Have some slot machines in it? Why don’t we just start gambling here? I thought state government was supposed to be for the people and watching out for them.”

What’s Next of this Sports Betting Bill?

The current legislative session ends on May 15th, which means that Senate members will have fewer than 30 days to pass the bill. If the Senate makes any changes to the bill before passing it, the House would need to again sign off on any changes. At this point the Senate seems more open to the idea of legal sports betting than the House, so it is likely that it will end up on the Governor’s desk before the end of this session.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

Recent Posts

The Hall vs. Bjornsson Boxing Match is Set for September of 2021

Back in May, news broke that two of the world’s strongest men were planning to box each other. It was…

November 25, 2020

Anthony Davis Betting Favorite to Win 2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year

The 2019-20 season was the best one in Anthony Davis’ career. First, he orchestrated a move out of New Orleans…

November 25, 2020

Bengals, Jaguars Announce QB Changes Ahead of Week 12

Bengals to start Brandon Allen over backup QB Ryan Finley on Sunday vs. Giants Jaguars will start Mike Glennon over…

November 25, 2020

You Can Now Bet on Bitcoin’s Price Online!

For the past month, the price of Bitcoin has been surging. It’s been fascinating to watch, and many investors are…

November 24, 2020

The Match 3: Curry and Manning Favored Over Mickelson and Barkley

The Match Part 3 is on and it goes down without Tiger Woods. Woods and Phil Mickelson have been the…

November 24, 2020

KBO Star Ha-Seong Kim to Be Posted on November 25

Kiwoom Heroes to post star shortstop Ha-Seong Kim on Wednesday Kim will become one of the hottest commodities on the…

November 24, 2020