New bill could legalize sports betting in Tennessee

A new sports betting bill introduced in Tennessee could make sports betting legal in the state this year.

The bill titled the “Tennessee Sports Gaming Act” was introduced by House Representative and Assistant Minority Leader Rick Staples.

Local news outlet Local Memphis quoted Staples as saying: “Billions of dollars leave the state of Tennessee to our neighboring states with casino and table gambling. So, this is a new stream of revenue that the federal government is allowing the states to take advantage of.”

The bill sets a tax rate of 10% which will then be allocated to different areas within the state. The state treasurer will receive 40% of the tax revenue, 30% will be allocated to colleges in Tennessee and local governments will receive 30% for spending on education and infrastructure.

The proposed legislation would also establish the Tennessee Gaming Commission. The Commission would work alongside the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to make sure sportsbooks are regulated and operating in accordance with regulations.

The legislation also includes provisions for mobile sports betting, which would certainly benefit bettors in the state as Tennessee does not have any land-based casinos where sports bets could be placed.

If the bill is passed, then communities will be able to petition for their local government to call a vote on legalizing sports betting in the area. For a vote to be called, at least 10% of voters must call for the vote.

The bill was originally filed in early November 2018 ahead of the 2019 Tennessee legislative session which will begin on 8 January.

Senator Brian Kelsey has also announced that he is working on a piece of sports betting legislation which will permit sports betting in several of Tennessee’s cities.

Kelsey has said: “I am in the process of drafting a sports betting bill that would generate revenue specifically for preK-12 education.

“I think it is important to have local control over where sports betting takes place, so my bill would allow City Councils in Memphis and the other three large cities to designate areas for physical sports betting locations subject to a vote by the people.”

Both of the sports betting bills will be discussed on 8 January.

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