Before everyone got ready to head out for Memorial Day Weekend, another state decided that now was the right time to legalize sports betting. Tennessee became the fourth state to turn the corner since the start of 2019 – Indiana, Iowa, and Montana being the others.
Gov. Bill Lee failed to sign or veto HB 1, the bill up for discussion, before the specified time period. Now, sports betting is allowed in The Volunteer State. Although Tennessee doesn’t have a casino within its borders, the bill is only for online use and makes it the only state to have online-only betting.
In a statement made on Twitter, Gov. Lee reaffirmed his stance of disdain for the idea of gambling in any form, but did, “Appreciate the General Assembly’s efforts to remove brick-and-mortar establishments.”
He also added, “This bill ultimately did not pursue casinos, the most harmful form of gambling, which I believe prey on poverty and encourage criminal activity. Compromise is a central part of governing, but I remain philosophically opposed to gambling and will not be lending my signature to support this cause. We see this issue differently but let me be clear: any future efforts to expand gambling or introduce casinos in Tennessee will assure my veto.”
Lee doesn’t seem like he’ll be budging on this issue any time soon, so residents will have to be happy only having the online form for now. Rep. Andy Holt was also in Lee’s corner, arguing that allowing this bill to pass would be “pouring fire” on the addiction issues already existing in the state. Tennessee has one of the country’s worst opioid addiction epidemics.
One provision in this all quite fascinating. Tennessee is now the first state to force operators to use official data from the leagues. Under the law, operators have to pay a $750,000 annual fee and get their revenue taxed at a rate of 20 percent.
July 1 is when the bill finally becomes official, and the Lottery Commission will begin to draft regulations for the market and stand in place as the regulatory body for sports betting.
According to rough figures, Tennessee should be able to gain about $50 million in tax revenue from online sports betting.