Tennessee had its most advanced discussion of legalizing sports betting in the state on Tuesday. However, some major issues still remain ahead of a potential vote in the coming weeks.
The legislation, or House Bill 1, was originally written to allow for statewide mobile wagering as well as limited brick-and-mortar locations. Since there are no casinos or racinos in the state, sports betting would be regulated under a new state gaming commission.
New amendments to the bill were revealed last week and the bill now calls for mobile-only sports wagering. Also, instead of creating a new state agency to oversee the activity, the Tennessee Lottery would now become the regulator.
Under the newly amended bill, the state lottery commission would regulate sports betting in Tennessee and receive 85 percent of tax revenue and the remaining 15 percent would be dispersed among local government entities.
Now this week, there were discussions of re-adding brick-and-mortar sports betting provisions to the legislation, as well as creating a new regulatory body.
State Representative Rick Staples, who sponsors the bill, disagreed with re-inserting the language for retail sportsbooks. He doesn’t believe that it is the most effective way for Tennessee to dive into sports betting, given the lack of commercial casino gambling in the state.
Another topic of discussion was lowering the $750k license fee to $75k, stating that the fee is too high for smaller businesses. The change was rejected by the House State Committee during Tuesday’s debate. Another proposal to remove the cap on licenses (currently 10) was also denied.
A proposed change to mandate the use of official league sports betting data for “live betting” was also rejected.
The most bizarre proposed provision was to ban betting on major holidays, as well as on Sundays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. The committee narrowly avoided this disaster. If the provision were to occur, that would eliminate the majority of NFL betting in the state. NFL is far and away the most bet sport in the country, Tennessee would lose out on a significant amount of revenue if they were to ban betting on Sundays.
The amendment was narrowly shot down by a vote of 10-9.