Tennessee Expected to Pass Legalized Online Sports Betting Bill

May 01, 2019 10:25 PM EDT
Credit:

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • After passing through the House and Senate, a Tennessee sports betting bill is expected to go into law without a signature from the governor.
  • Unlike bills that have passed in other states, this one would allow only online legalized sports betting.

Despite a governor against the idea and some fairly heavy opposition in both the House and Senate, Tennessee looks to be the next state to pass a bill allowing an extent of legalized sports betting.

The House voted 58 to 37 in favor of the bill last week, and the Senate passed it along on Tuesday by a count of 19 to 12. That moves the bill to the desk of Governor Bill Lee, who, according to press secretary Laine Arnold, will allow it to pass without his signature.

Because of the vocal opposition within the House and Senate, Tennessee’s bill looks a bit different than those of other states that have passed some sort of sports betting legislation. Most notably, it does not allow for brick-and-mortar shops to set up sportsbooks. Instead, it solely legalizes online sports betting.

The main counterpoint to the bill — as is often the case — 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).

But the proponents were ultimately successful in their argument that since online sports betting is already happening in the state, it only makes sense for the government to tax and regulate it.

The tax is expected to bring in $50 million per year for Tennessee, though some representatives are skeptical given how other states’ betting revenues have compared to their initial projections.

Seven states have joined Nevada in legalizing sports betting over the past year, and Tennessee now joins a group in the on-deck circle (including Indiana, Iowa and Montana) looking to become No. 8.

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