Tennessee sports betting bill heads to Governor for final approval

The Tennessee legislature has sent a bill that would legalize online sports betting to Governor Bill Lee for final approval.

Lawmakers in the state approved HB 1, a substitute for SB 16, on Tuesday by a vote of 19-12. This vote comes just six days after the House passed the bill by a vote of 58-37.

The bill would authorize sports betting over the internet and via mobile apps making Tennessee the first state to consider an entirely online sports betting model.

Despite authorizing online and mobile betting, the bill contains several provisions that make it one of the least attractive frameworks for legal sports betting.

What’s in the bill?

The proposed legislation received various amendments since its original introduction in January.

In March, the House amended the bill to remove land-based sports betting. This led to the bill being passed as an online-only sports betting bill, the first of its kind in the US.

The House also raised the license fee to $750,000, which will have to be renewed on an annual basis. The tax rate was also doubled and operators will now be taxed 20% on sports betting revenue.

In a first for the US, a change by the Senate would empower major sports leagues to request certain restrictions when it comes to sports betting in Tennessee. The bill also states that operators will be restricted to using official data sources for in-play sports betting.

This will allow the sports leagues to monetize their official data and grant them a level of influence over Tennessee’s sports betting market. However, the bill does not include any provisions for integrity fees.

The NBA, MLB and NFL are registered lobbying organizations in Tennessee. On top of this, the state is home to three professional sports teams and 12 NCAA Division 1 programs.

Could Tennessee legalize betting in 2019?

The bill has now been sent to Governor Bill Lee for final approval. Once Lee receives the bill, he will have 10 days to decide whether to sign it into law.

Although there is no indication that Lee will veto the bill, local news outlets have reported that the Governor may not sign the bill. According to The Tennessean Lee may let the bill become law without signing it.

The Tennessean has quoted Laine Arnold, Lee’s press secretary, as saying: “The governor has said he does not believe that the expansion of gambling is best, but he recognizes that many in the legislature found this to be an issue they want to explore further. He plans to let this become law without his signature.”

This news comes just days after lawmakers in Iowa, Indiana and Montana sent sports betting bills to their respective governors for final approval.

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