The Tennessee House of Representatives reportedly passed a proposed piece of legislation yesterday that could soon lead to the southern state becoming the latest to legalize online sportsbetting.
According to a report from The Tennessean newspaper, Wednesday afternoon saw the 99-seat body approve House Bill 1 by a margin of 58 to 37 despite spirited protests from some members who declared that they were concerned that the legalization of online sports wagering could lead to a rise in gambling addictions.
The new legislation is the brainchild of Democratic Tennessee Representative, Rick Staples (pictured), and is now due to be sent for a similar vote before the Tennessee State Senate after earlier being approved by this 33-member body’s Finance Committee. A similar subsequent endorsement would purportedly see House Bill 1 placed before newly-elected Tennessee Governor, Bill Lee, for his required signature.
Staples reportedly told the newspaper that Tennessee is in a unique position to generate revenues from online sportsbetting because this activity is not currently legal in many of its neighboring states including Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas. He detailed that participating operators would be able to use geo-location technology in order to offer aficionados from states such as these the ability to enter ‘The Volunteer State’ in order to place sports wagers.
The Tennessean reported that the overall ratification of House Bill 1 would allow almost anyone in Tennessee over the age of 21 to legally place an online wager on a range of professional and collegiate sports. However, amendments purportedly inserted into the legislation would prohibit land-based establishments from featuring sportsbooks while allocating the estimated $50 million in new associated tax revenues to local government, education and gambling addiction treatment programs.
The just-passed proposed legislation additionally contains a list of people who would be prohibited from partaking in sportsbetting. This register encompasses athletes, referees and team owners as well as those who may be employed by an online sportsbook with anyone found to have broken this prohibition incurring a misdemeanor conviction.
The introduction of House Bill 1 follows May’s invalidation by the United States Supreme Court of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which had largely been responsible for limiting legalized sportsbetting to land-based casinos in Nevada. The states of Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Mexico have since reacted to this decision by legalizing sports wagering while a further 31 others including the likes of Indiana, Washington and Iowa are currently weighing up whether to follow suit.