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Tennessee Governor allows sports betting bill to pass into law


Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has allowed a bill to legalise sports betting to pass without his signature, despite having made clear his opposition to expanding gambling in the US state.

SB0016 will permit wagering both online and via remote kiosks in Tennessee, and is due to come into effect from July 1 this year.

Last month, the bill cleared the House by a vote of 51-40 after passing through the state Senate by a vote of 20-12. It replaced a previous version (HB0001) after the House concurred with a number of amendments made by the Senate.

Governor Lee (pictured) has been outspoken about his opposition to plans to legalise online sports betting, but said that he would allow the bill to pass into law.

“I am letting House Bill 0001 become law without my signature,” Lee said in a statement. “I do not believe the expansion of gambling through online sports betting is in the best interest of our state, but I do appreciate the General Assembly’s efforts to remove brick and mortar establishments.

“This bill ultimately did not pursue casinos, the most harmful form of gambling, which I believe prey on poverty and encourage criminal activity. Compromise is a central part of governing, but I remain philosophically opposed to gambling and will not be lending my signature to this cause.”

However, Lee has warned that any future efforts to further expand gambling in the state will not receive the same treatment as SB0016.

“We see this issue differently, but let me be clear: any future efforts to expand gambling or introduce casinos in Tennessee will assure my veto,” he said.

Key measures in SB0016 include a requirement for operators to pay $50,000 to apply for a licence and $750,000 to secure the permit, while the sports betting tax rate would be set at 20%.

Operators will only be permitted to use official data from sports leagues when offering betting services. The exception to this rule is if a licensee can prove the governing body of a sport or sports league, organisation, or association could not provide a feed of official league data for live betting “in accordance with commercially reasonable terms, as determined by the board”.

Professional sports leagues will also have the ability to request that betting or certain types of wagering on select events be prohibited. Such a request can only be made if there is clear reason that betting would be “contrary to public policy, unfair to consumers, or affects the integrity of a particular sport or the sports betting industry”.

Image: Famartin