Tennessee one step closer to sports gambling
The House approved a sports gambling bill yesterday
Tennessee has made progress toward legalizing sports gambling in the past couple of weeks. After it seemed that efforts in the Volunteer State to green-light the activity, the House approved a sports gambling bill yesterday and will now forward it to the Senate to be reviewed by that chamber. With a little luck, it could end up on Governor Bill Lee’s desk shortly.
Tennessee has taken a different approach to sports gambling than what has been seen elsewhere. The state has no physical casinos, which is an obstacle to land-based sports-books. Therefore, the state has created the country’s first mobile-only sports gambling legislation, which authorizes a 22.5% tax on the activity and would have it overseen by the Tennessee Lottery Commission.
The Senate has been a little more reluctant than the House to approve sports gambling legislation and whether or not it will sign off on the bill cannot be predicted. However, there was a glimpse offered late yesterday on how the chamber may lean when a Senate committee approved the bill 9-2.
If the Senate says yes, Lee is going to control the outcome and no one can say which way he will go. When he was campaigning to become Tennessee’s governor last year, he was opposed to sports gambling, saying at one point that he would “work with the legislature to make sure they didn’t approve it. However, after taking office, his position changed and he said last month that he would “work with lawmakers to improve a bill that impacts the state’s economic and social health, even if it’s not something we plan to support.”
Tennessee’s legislative session end May 15, so there isn’t much time for action. There is still a lot that can happen in the next couple of weeks and it cannot be determined yet if Tennessee is on the verge of legalized sports gambling, or if it will have to wait another year.