• Tennessee House Bill 1 was first referred to the House State Committee on February 27, 2019.
  • The bill has gone through multiple attempts to legalize mobile sports betting in Tennessee.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A final answer on Tennessee sports betting may be coming later than expected. Earlier this week, members of the State Committee in the House of Representatives delayed a final vote once more on sports betting bill TN HB 0001.

The bill was originally filed with bipartisan support. TN HB 0001 was sponsored by Democratic Representative Rick Staples in the House, while a twin version of the bill was introduced in the Senate by Republican Senator Steve Dickerson.

The proposed legislation has seen multiple versions since it was first filed. It originally sought out to legalize both sports betting at brick-and-mortar locations and mobile devices, then solely through online platforms, and was considered for in-person sportsbooks once more this week.

Tennessee does not currently have any casinos located within the state and the proposed regulatory body that would oversee sports betting would be the Tennessee Lottery.

However, there has been opposition from both parties within the State Committee. Among those members is Democratic Representative Jason Powell.

Powell attempted to add certain amendments to the legislation which include lowering the license fee from $750,000 to $75,000, holding a city-wide voter referendum for Tennessee’s four major metropolitan areas, and most notably no sports betting on Sundays.

These attempts were shot down, but it was enough to convince members to delay taking action for another week. The next committee hearing on the matter will take place on April 2.

How Likely Is Tennessee To Pass Sports Betting This Year?

To put it mildly, it seems as though 2020 may hold more promise than this year. House Bill 0001 was first referred to the State Committee on February 27, 2019, and has been delayed at every chance since.

After the committee’s meeting this week it was decided that the bill would move to the ‘heel of the calendar’. This essentially means that it will be one of the last pieces of legislation vote on this year. There are currently 23 bills on the committee’s calendar and their session ends in mid-May.

This may not be enough time to get it voted on by both legislative chambers and into the Governor’s hands in time to sign it into law this year.

Governor Bill Lee has also expressed his morality concerns over legalized Tennessee sports betting in his gubernatorial debates leading up to his election.

The issue standing from most opponents does not seem to be about the monetary value of gambling on sports but rather the morality of it.

“Some things we just don’t do, and money isn’t everything. The State of Tennessee, if we can save one person, it’s much more important than making a million dollars, is the way I see this,” said House Representative Johnny Shaw.

Staples has claimed that Tennessee has already lost $3 billion to other states with legalized gambling, including neighboring state Mississippi. Arkansas has legal sports betting and is set to open a sportsbook this year at Southland Gaming and Racing, which sits only 10 minutes outside of Memphis.

Both Kentucky and Missouri are also considering legalizing some form of sports wagering this year. While there are clear moral concerns from both parties in Tennessee, it may take longer for the potential tax revenue lost to outweigh those concerns.

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