A bill in Tennessee that would legalize sports gambling is being heavily worked over with some assistance from previously opposed parties. What started out as a promising beginning to 2019 for sports betting legislation, has turned into a chaotic legal scene of “too many chefs in the kitchen.” And, now, Governor Lee has changed his mind and is working with state leaders on a more comprehensive bill.
Governor Lee expressed some opposition to sports gambling while on the campaign trail, but as of now, his office is working with lawmakers and talking to supporters in order to improve the bill. This past week, an email was sent to News 2 from the Lee administration, discussing the governor’s position on sports betting:
“Governor Lee continues to believe that gambling expansion is not in the best interest of our state. The Lee administration will often work with lawmaker to improve a bill that impacts the state’s economic and social health, even if it’s not something we plan to support.”
House Sponsor Rick Staples introduced House Bill 0001 on March 13th in an attempt to keep Tennessee residents and visitors from leaving the state to bet on sports. Right now they’re working on some amendments for the bill: how much tax the state will charge, how it will be regulated, and how extensive the activity to be are what’s being looked at.
Rep. Staples shared details about the inner workings of this collaboration to rework the current bill:
“We are trying to capture dollars instead of dollars leaving the state. You’ll always have people illegally betting. We are trying to make it legal and most importantly, get dollars for locals to take advantage of for their needs.”
Tax revenue from legal sports betting would go towards things like infrastructure, colleges, education, and more. Representative Rick Staples hopes to have the proposed changes in amendment form by next week.
In May 2018 the Supreme court overturned a federal ban on sports betting that had been in place since 1992. This opened up the possibility for each state to legalize and profit from sports gambling. Since the decision, seven states have legalized sports betting and opened fully operational sportsbooks: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, New Mexico, and Mississippi. New York and Arkansas both have legislation that they’ve approved, but sportsbook operations are still in the works. More than 20 states have sports gambling legislation being worked on at present.
Tennessee has been actively discussing sports betting since last summer. This includes where to allow sports betting, who will run it, proposed taxes, and possibly expanding the number of gambling entities within the state. As of now, Tennessee continues to inch closer to the reality of legal sports betting, but will need to get everyone on board to ensure this happens in 2019. Otherwise, it could be at least another year before it happens.
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