Representative Rick Staples Files Sports Betting Bill in Tennessee

The New Year has just begun, and already, states in the US are filing legislation to get started in the sports betting industry. Tennessee Representative Rick Staples has filed Bill HB0001, the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, in the hope of seeing his state move quickly to legalize the industry.

Since May 2018, sports betting has grown considerably in the United States. After the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act, individual states wasted no time passing legislation and getting regulations in order for sports betting operations to begin.

For 2019, Tennessee is one of the first states to introduce new legislation in the hopes of seeing the industry launch this year.

Capitalizing on revenues leaving the state

According to Staples, Tennessee is losing out on billions of dollars as players go to neighboring states to take part in casino gaming along with other options. Gambling is extremely limited in the state, with lottery gaming, horse tracks and charitable gaming being all that is available. With sports betting, a new form of revenue would be created and money would stay within the state’s borders.

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

The new bill would allow local governments to make the decision to allow sports betting or not. The goal is to allow the local governments to create a new income source. Local elections would have to take place and residents of cities and counties would have to vote yes or no in approval for sports betting.

The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act requires a 10% tax on all gaming revenues. A total of 40% of that tax will go towards a general fund for general appropriations. The colleges of applied technology and community colleges will receive a 30% cut to be used towards equipment and projects. Education and infrastructure will benefit from a 30% cut that will go towards local government.

The bill allows players 21 years of age or older to take part and players must be located within the state to make their wager. Players do not have to be residents of the state to take part, but they must register to be able to wager, according to language of the measure.

Betting will be allowed on some college sports as well as professional sports teams. However, Staples pointed out that colleges that do not want to allow wagering on their teams can choose to opt out.

Obstacles remain

While Staples is optimistic that his bill will become law, there are obstacles it must overcome. Gambling is already very restricted in Tennessee and lawmakers may not be so receptive to change.

According to VSO News, the new state governor may be an obstacle. Governor Bill Lee would have to sign the bill into law if it is able to reach his desk.

During his campaign, Lee was very vocal about his disapproval of gambling. He may not be on board and if he doesn’t sign, then all efforts made will be lost. He reportedly believes that there is a correlation between expansionary gambling laws and crime.

If the bill is unable to move forward, Tennessee will continue to fall behind and will have to watch as neighboring states succeed. Mississippi is one neighboring state that is benefiting from sports betting already and such close-by states as Kentucky, Arkansas and Virginia are also considering sports betting legislation.

With so many states nearby offering sports betting and additional gambling options, players will continue to leave the state of Tennessee to take part.