Sports betting continues to expand in the United States as individual states work on their respective legislation. Already this year, several states have enacted legislation or are discussing options to bring the betting industry to life within their borders. In Tennessee, a piece of legislation is making its way through Legislature with the House of Representatives recently approving the measure.
Full Steam Ahead
The sports betting bill in Tennessee seeks to legalize sports betting but only in online form. The House of Representatives passed the legislation this week, despite a debate taking place among House members who were worried about gambling addiction and how it might affect residents of the state. House Bill 1 was filled this session and would legalize online sports betting in the state. An amendment was removed recently within the legislation that would allow for wagering to take place in land-based venues.
The bill passed within the House at a vote of 58 to 37. Those opposed include Representative Andy Hold. The Rep stated during the hearing of the bill that he thinks the legislation is ‘pouring fuel on the addiction issues’ in the state. The Rep feels that family members will blow their money no gambling instead of using their funds to feed their children or take care of other responsibilities.
The bill was approved in a Senate Finance committee on Wednesday and will now move on to the Senate floor to be voted on in the near future. It has been estimated that sports betting in the state will bring as much as $50 million in revenues each year. The money will be used for education as well as local government issues. Some money will also be put to the side to focus on gambling addiction issues.
Is the Governor On Board?
For the legislation to be successful, the Governor needs to be on board. Governor Bill Lee has expressed his opposition to gambling in the past and may not be willing to sign on to the legislation. He has stated that he is not interested in further legalizing gambling in the state. Tennessee currently offers lottery that sees funds placed towards education funding.
Lawmakers do feel that the governor will be on board and will not veto the legislation. House Speaker Glen Casada has stated that he feels Governor Lee will vote in support of the measure if it is able to pass in the Senate.
During the House hearing, it was pointed out that many residents are already taking part in sports betting illegally. With legalization, the state could regulate and tax the industry, taking advantage of what players are already doing.
The legislation was created with restrictions in place, such as prohibiting certain people from placing wagers. Athletes and team owners are not allowed to wager as well as those who operate sports books. Anyone who does so would face a misdemeanor charge.
If Tennessee were to begin to offer sports betting, they would be in a good position to earn revenues. Nearby Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Arkansas do not provide sports betting. Residents of these states could then cross the border into Tennessee to take part in mobile wagering.
The state would certainly benefit monetarily but only if lawmakers choose to pass the sports betting legislation into law. We shall see in the coming weeks if the state will see sports betting come to pass or if the option will remain up in the air as lawmakers debate the subject.