Tennessee Sports Betting Bill Altered to Allow Only Online Wagering

Rubber stamp saying ONLINE ONLY
A Tennessee bill to legalize sports betting has been changed to allow online betting only.

30-second summary

  • Sports betting legislation in Tennessee has been changed to allow online wagering only
  • Sportsbook shops and kiosks removed from bill language
  • Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation to manage the new industry
  • Revenues estimated at $21.6m in the first year and double that in the second year

Sports betting legislation was introduced in Tennessee by Representative Rick Staples in January. The bill would have originally legalized sports betting in the state, creating shops similar to sportsbooks. Also in the mix were sports betting kiosks. Staples has now decided to change the legislation to allow online betting only. If the amended bill is passed into law, players in Tennessee will only be able to place wagers online.

Allowing sports betting online only would be a first for the United States. Most states that have passed sports betting legislation have focused on offering land-based options first. They then delve into online gaming. New Jersey is currently the only state with both options. Other states, such as Rhode Island, are on the path to launching online and mobile sports betting.

The amendment to the bill basically changed most of its language. All sports betting will take place online according to the bill as it reads now. The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation will be in charge.

It has been estimated that during the first year of operation, the new industry will bring in around $21.6m (£16.4m) in revenues and double that amount in the second year. Of the taxable income generated, 15% would go to local governments. The remaining 85% would go into an education account set up by the lottery.

A Modern Approach

Support has already been seen for the modern approach to sports betting. PGA Vice President of Tournament Administration Andy Levinson has shown support for the measure. Levinson is hopeful that Tennessee will provide a modern take on sports betting.

Mr. Levinson said: “In international markets that are a bit more sophisticated, they’re doing what’s called in-play betting, which is bets that are placed once a competition is started. You will be able to eventually bet by hole-by-hole or shot by shot or where a shot might land on the green.”

During the recent Tennessee committee meeting, FanDuel was also represented. The company was first known for daily fantasy sports but quickly crossed over to sports betting when the federal ban was struck down by the Supreme Court. The company showed its support during the meeting and stated that it wants to be considered for licensing.

The legislation would allow licensing of ten companies to provide sports betting in the state.

Some lawmakers are skeptical

As with any gambling legislation, there is some skepticism. Representative Rush Bricken has questioned why some of the revenues are not being set aside for gambling addiction. According to VSO News, when sports betting legislation was first introduced in the state, lawmakers were worried about the downside, such as an increase in gambling addiction. Opponents have asked for comprehensive studies to study any negative issues that may arise from the gambling option.

Lawmakers are also worried about preventing neighboring states from accessing the sports betting applications in their state. Like other states, Tennessee would have to utilize geolocation technology in order to ensure players are located within the borders of the state.

The bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law. More discussions are expected as lawmakers weigh their options, including the changes to this particular sports betting legislation.