Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
- Tennessee becomes the first state to legalize online sports betting exclusively after the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act passed through the state legislature.
Welcome to the strength, Volunteers. Sports betting is now legal in Tennessee.
Online sportsbooks can begin offering their products on July 1, but actual betting is expected to begin closer to football season.
Gov. Bill Lee chose to not sign the bill — the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act — but let it pass through as law anyway, as he said he would.
Tennessee is the first state to have mobile-only sports betting — there will be no physical sportsbooks, and there are no casinos in the state.
Lee said in a statement that he opposes gambling philosophically, but that online-only betting was a compromise between himself and the General Assembly.
The main counterpoint to the bill was centered around addiction. Rep. Andy Holt argued that allowing it to pass would be “pouring fire” on the addiction issues already existing in Tennessee.
The opposition even added an amendment that would put some of the revenue generated by legalized sports betting toward gambling addiction treatment (along with education and local government issues).
Another key part of Tennessee’s sports betting bill is that it forces gambling operators to get commercial licenses for in-game betting. That gives the pro sports leagues more control over what can and cannot be offered.
For more on legalized sports betting in every state, click here.