- Tennessee spearheads bill to legalize online sports wagering
- The state expects to collect $750,000 per license fee every year
- Companies offering betting odds will be taxed up to 20% of their revenue
- Revenue from sports betting expected to hit $40 million by the second year of business
Amid rapidly expanding sports betting landscape in the United States, Tennessee’s the latest state to pass a draft bill by the House of Representatives and now debate the matter in the Senate.
Tennessee Sports Betting Bill Clears the House
Tennessee’s proposed sports betting legislation, HB 0001, has cleared the House of Representatives, gathering sufficient support to progress to the next round of discussions in the Senate.
Introduced in January by Representative Rick Staples, the bill has been fast-tracked, gathering momentum from across the entire political spectrum. The bill was voted and passed on Wednesday, April 24, with 58 Representatives casting their vote for and 37 opposing it. Meanwhile, a Senate bill, S 16, managed to clear the Finance Committee.
After initial concerns about the future and success of HB 1 raised in March, today’s support for the bill sets Tennessee on a quick course to fully legalizing sports betting.
Not a Smooth Sailing and Bill Details
HB 1 is one of the most innovative pieces of legislations to appear in any state since PASPA was struck down in May, 2018. The bill would not require any physical venues to place wagers and will allow everyone to bet online instead. Here are some of the specifics:
- Operators will need to pay between $7,500 and $750,000 annual license fee
- Businesses will have to pay between 10% and 20% revenue tax
- All data will be provided by sports leagues in the case of In-Play bets
- No brick-and-mortar operators will be allowed
- There will be no limit on how many operators can offer sports betting options
Lawmakers are hoping to get a lot of bang for their buck in Tennessee as the state expects to rake in $20 million within the first year of operation and then $40 million during the second year.
Despite the clear economic windfall for the state, there have been vociferous opponents, such as Rep. Johnny Shaw who has been thorough in expressing his dissatisfaction with the push to legalize sports betting:
“I think we’re moving down the wrong path when we start legalizing gambling online. Folks are going to be sitting up in church on Sunday and everywhere else they’re going to be playing.”
For the most part, opponents have been equating sports betting to legalizing drugs, pointing to risks of addiction. It’s definitely not auspicious for the legislation itself that those against it have been taking a moral high ground that resonates with a large part of the public.
Nevertheless, the state plans to allocate 5% of the tax it collects to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.