After Tuesday’s Senate approval, Tennessee Governor, Bill Lee, will reportedly allow a sports betting bill become law, albeit without his signature and in spite of his opposition to the legalization of gambling.
After receiving a 58 to 37 vote of approval in the House of Representatives on April 24, SB 16 narrowly passed in the Senate on Tuesday in a 19 to 12 vote to permit online sports gambling from July 1, 2019.
According to The Tennessean, Governor Lee’s press secretary, Laine Arnold, said, “The governor has said he does not believe that the expansion of gambling is best, but he recognizes that many in the legislature found this to be an issue they want to explore further. He plans to let this become law without his signature.”
The original bill was filed in November by Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville, he and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville sponsored the measure, and HB0001 (“Tennessee Sports Gaming Act”) would have permitted brick-and-mortar betting shops, but was removed from the measure due to the governor’s opposition.
The measure, would for individuals ages 21 and over, allow and regulate statewide mobile and online sports gambling while continuing to prohibit the activity at brick-and-mortar venues.
Oversight and implementation of the program, which would see a 20 percent privilege tax imposed on online gambling, would belong to Tennessee Education Lottery officials. The state estimates that some $41 million would be brought in for the lottery, while local governments would see $7.6 million, and for gambling-addiction programs, the Department of Mental Health would receive around $2.5 million, according to the Times Free Press.
Dickerson reportedly said that the bill would “bring the illegal online sports gambling market into the sunshine,” as well as provide consumer protection for those individuals who place sports bets and generating state revenue.
One of the bill’s opponents, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, remained unconvinced about the revenue projections, that skepticism based on some 10 other states where similar sports betting legislation has passed.
Of those approximately 10 state’s revenue estimates, “Some of them missed it by half,” Bell said, although it was not clear from where the data came, according to The Tennessean.