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Governor Bill Lee has allowed a proposed sports betting bill to become law in Tennessee without his signature.
The measure, known as the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, was not approved during debate by Gov. Lee, but he acknowledged that the bill had the support of the state’s legislators.
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.
The bill came to Gov. Lee’s desk after the state’s Senate approved the measure 19-12 and the house passed the proposal 51-40.
Even in the hours leading up to the Governor’s controversial decision, legislators were split on the measure, with some hoping he would veto the bill.
“I hope to God that Gov. Bill Lee will veto this bill if does pass,” Rep. Jerry Sexton, told fellow lawmakers during a recent House debate.
“I’m asking him to do that right here in front of everybody.”
Some of the bill’s opponents are worried about addiction and how sports betting will affect families in the state.
Republican Sen. Janice Bowling said the bill is like “putting the ambulance at the bottom of the hill, rather than putting the fence at the top of the hill.”
“We just seem to be looking in a way that we’re going to try to create a gray market, and I think probably if we could get rid of the black market it would be better.”
The legislation has a July 1st date for implementation.
Tennessee is taking a unique approach to the sports betting business.
The bill calls for there to be no brick-and-mortar sports betting. So, there will be no active casinos housing sportsbooks like you see in other states like New Jersey and Nevada.
Instead, gamblers will have to set up online accounts through the state’s approved sportsbooks.
Expect companies like DraftKings and FanDuel to quickly become licensed to set up legal online sportsbooks in the Volunteer State.
A commission will be formed with the state’s Lottery Commission, consisting of nine individuals who oversee all regulations for sports wagering in the state.
The bill also states that no one under the age of 21 will be allowed to place a bet through an app.
And as with other states, only residents and visitors inside the state boundaries of Tennessee will be allowed to make bets.
Finally, the bill also includes a list of individuals who will not be able to make legal wagers inside the state.
People on the list include athletes, team owners, operators of sportsbooks and other game officials who have authority over the rules and scoring of the games.
Lawmakers expect the sports gambling bill to bring in over $50 million a year to the state.
The bill calls for 80% of all money to be deposited back into the lottery fund where the proceeds will help support education in the state.
Considering that other states are having issues hitting their estimates, it would not be surprising if the ambitious expected totals fail to meet reality when numbers are announced.
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