From Montana to Indiana and, most recently, Iowa, the next stop for legal sports betting seems to be Tennessee. The state has been on track since February. After three months of debate and consultation, Tennesseans are set to have regulated sports betting by the end of the week.
The bill that paves the way for sports betting in the state, HB 1, has already been approved by lawmakers in both Houses. All that is remaining is Gov. Bill Lee’s signature to make it law. However, given the Governor’s hard-line position on legal gambling, it is almost sure that he will let it become law without consenting to it.
Governor Still Opposed to Sports Betting
In the run-up to the legalization of sports wagering in Tennessee, one of the most vocal opponents of House Bill 1 has been Gov. Bill Lee.
Early this year, Lee’s press secretary stated that the Governor does not think that expanding the state’s gambling market to include sports betting was the best thing. Tennessee already runs some form of online gaming offered by the state lottery.
However, the statement also pointed out that the Governor recognizes the fact that other legislators want to pursue the subject. Because of that, he would let the bill pass without his signature if it made it to his desk.
The bill was sent to Gov. Bill Lee on May 14, and it is improbable that he will veto. If there is no action from the Governor, HB 1 will automatically become law after the signing deadline elapses on May 25.
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Contents of the Bill
The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, as outlined under HB 1, will authorize online sports wagering in the state under the regulation of the Tennessee Gaming Commission.
The sports betting services will be available to persons aged 21 years and above. A bettor will be required to be physically within the state to place a legal bet.
To ensure compliance, bettors will have to register in person with an authorized operator before they can wager online. Licensees will also be required to use geo-location technology to ensure that a bettor is within the state.
Sportsbook operators will pay $7,500 to the Commission in licensing fees, and they will remit a 10% tax from their revenue each month. The funds will go to various projects at the state and local government levels, including education and treatment for gambling addiction.
Sports Betting To Fuel Tourism In Tennessee
With legal sports wagering just around the corner, lawmakers in the state are already optimistic that Tennessee will reap huge returns from a regulated market.
The state anticipates making hundreds of millions from the remitted taxes. A portion of this revenue is expected to come from visitors. Like New Jersey, Tennessee is in an excellent position to welcome bettors from the neighboring states where the sports betting market is untapped.
The state borders Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, and Missouri, and all five states are yet to legalize online gambling.