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In a stunning turn of events, it appears that Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee will allow the state’s sports betting law to become legal without his signature.
Gov. Lee has been a vocal opponent of sports betting in the state but lawmakers have pushed back against his reservations to pass a bill that currently awaits his approval.
The measure passed by a comfortable margin in both houses in late April and the Governor’s staff later admitted that Lee didn’t like the bill.
“The governor has said he does not believe that the expansion is best, but he recognizes that many in the legislature found this to be an issue they want to explore further,” Lee spokeswoman Laine Arnold said.
“He plans to let this become law without his signature,” she concluded.
The bill calls for online operators to pay an annual licensing fee of $750,000 with the state charging 20% in taxes on all profit.
And as with other states, Tennessee has set their law with a legal betting age of 21 or older.
If Lee does not sign the bill and allows it to become a law, then Tennessee residents can expect for sports betting to start around July 1st.
The bill calls for the creation of a nine-person commission that will exist under the umbrella of the state’s lottery system.
The commission will come together quickly as they will be responsible for approving applications for potential operators.
Online betting powerhouses like DraftKings and FanDuel expect to immediately submit a licensing application once the bill become a law.
Tennessee residents can expect a flood of other significant betting operators to reach the market including the much-anticipated FOX Bet app from Fox Sports.
Lawmakers in the Volunteer state have suggested that revenues for the first year of betting could reach upward of $50 million.
Most states that have already legalized sports betting have come nowhere near that mark and experts say don’t expect Tennessee to break the glass ceiling.
“I’d exercise a little caution with that (estimated figure),” Legal Sports Report Analyst Eric Ramsey told WJHL.com.
“In other young, early adopter markets in the US, some of those projections, have been a little ambitious for the first year.”
Ramsey believes it will take Tennessee a few years before they can expect that kind of return from online operators.
Perhaps the main hurdle to climb for Tennessee is the inclusion of an amendment that requires operators to use official league data for results.
Most states have shied away from using official data because of the expenses incurred to operators.
The inclusion of the official data amendment is risky because it could force less competition and worse odds pushing bettors to other online sites or casinos in neighboring states.
“The concern with this data is that the more fees and taxes, the more restrictions you impose on operators,” said Ramsey.
“The tougher it makes it for them to compete with the existing offshore operations.”
With the end of the Tennessee legislative session just days away, concerns will become realities if Gov. Lee allows the bill to become a law.
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