Tennessee Struggles to Agree on a Sports Betting Bill
Lawmakers in Tennessee are having a difficult time finding a middle ground when it comes to putting together a sports betting law.
Republicans, Democrats and outside lobbying groups cannot decide on the proper way to write a bill that would legalize sports betting in the state.
Concerns from the groups include morality issues, possible game-fixing scandals and the treatment of individuals who become hooked to sports gambling.
Currently, the bill continues to go through committees for debate, but strangely it appears that in-person betting will not be a part of any sports wagering bill.
Instead, the lawmakers feel that online betting may be the preferred method to introduce sports betting to state residents and visitors.
Is Morality Causing Problems With the Tennessee Bill?
In short, yes, many in the state’s legislature believe that gambling will cause untold harm to families and individuals who become addicted to betting on sports events.
Governor Bill Lee has publicly stated that he has moral issues with extending gambling in the state.
Democratic Representative Johnny Shaw expressed concern that by allowing legal sports betting they were tempting college athletes and causing residents to wager online all the time.
Shaw told fellow legislators, “I think we're moving down the wrong path when we start legalizing gambling online.”
”Folks are going to be sitting up in church on Sunday and everywhere else they're going to be playing.”
“Some things we just don’t do, and money is not everything,” Shaw continued.
“The state of Tennessee, if we can save one person, it's much more important than making a million dollars, is the way I see this.”
Other lawmakers were worried why the proposals did not have money for treatment of individuals with gambling addictions.
Rep. Rush Bricken was the most vocal of the Republican side, noting the fact that the state only spends three cents per person on treatment, far below other states.
"It would be remiss for us to get this legislation all the way through without serious additional money for gambling addiction," Bricken said.
What Concerns Does the University of Tennessee Have With the Bill?
It may seem like a university shouldn't have a say in a state gambling bill, but in the Volunteer State, the University of Tennessee reigns supreme.
University Director of Policy Analysis Josh Warren thinks that there are serious concerns when drafting a bill that will allow residents to bet on collegiate sports.
Warren specifically used the example of how students may have inside information not given to bookmakers because of their access to athletes on campus.
The Director expressed these concerns recently to a House committee bill review.
“These are college students as well,” Warren told the Committee. “So, we just want to be very mindful of the surroundings of a college campus.”
Warren’s used his appearance before the committee to push for the establishment of a gaming commission that would oversee any issues that legalized gambling could bring to the state.
The bill is still in the debate stage with several proposals to how the funds should be distributed.
For example, in Democratic Rep. Rick Staples’ bill, 85 percent of the revenue would go to the lottery fund, while 15 percent would go to local governments.