• TN HB 1 has passed in one of the state’s House Committee
  • There are still plenty of votes need to be cast before sports betting is legal in the state

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A sports betting bill has passed its first vote on Wednesday in one of Tennessee’s House subcommittees, bringing the state closer to legalizing sports betting.

TN HB 1 is a piece of legislation that seeks to legalize sports wagering in Tennessee. The bill passed in the Departments and Agencies subcommittee in the State’s House on Wednesday. This is the first of many votes that the bill has to go through before sports betting becomes legal in Tennessee.

What The Bill Will Do

On top of legalizing sports betting in the state, it allows for local governments throughout the state to opt in or out of it. City governments will be allowed to decide if they want to bring sports betting to their area, or if they want to keep things the way they are. This could potentially open a large number of sportsbooks around the state if plenty of governments vote to bring it in, or it is possible that no sportsbooks could end up opening.

If this measure becomes law, state revenue will be able to increase without having to implement new taxes on the residents of Tennessee.

The bill says that the state will receive a 10 percent tax on all sports gambling revenue. Lawmakers are hoping that this tax rate will allow Tennessee to receive $30 million a year in taxes. From that money, 30 percent is going to K-12 education programs and it will also go into rebuilding local infrastructure. Lawmakers believe that legalizing sports betting would help the state take back revenue it is already losing.

Taking Back Lost Revenue

Right now, Tennessee does not allow for most forms of gambling. There are no casinos and even playing bingo to gamble is not allowed in Tennessee. Because of that, representative Rick Staples says that the state is losing $3 billion annually because locals from Tennessee are going across state borders to gamble. The states they go to tax their money on all wagers, so surrounding states are benefitting from the lack of gaming that Tennessee has.

Even if that is the case, Governor Bill Lee is not completely convinced that Tennessee needs to legalize sports betting.

“I think that organized betting frequently develops into organized crime that we don’t need in our state,” said Lee.

In response, Scott Ward who represents FanDuel and DraftKings says that sports wagering is already happening in Tennessee. He says that there are a large number of residents who are engaging in sports betting by using online offshore sportsbooks. Meaning that Tennessee is losing money not to other states, but to other countries as well.

All of that lost revenue could come back to Tennessee if the TN HB 1 becomes law. But there are more votes that the state’s Congress needs to do before that can happen. The bill will go to more committees to be debated on before the general House will be able to vote on the measure.

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