Tennessee Looking To Become The Next U.S. State To Legalize Sports Betting

A newly-announced bill proposal in Tennessee is set to give local governments the power to allow sports betting, Local Memphis reports.

The proposed bill is set to be discussed this week by state legislatures.

Initially suggested by State Representative Rick Staples, the bill would allow licensed gambling operators to accept wagers from state-based players, with a 10% tax imposed on the income generated. This tax would then be collected monthly, and while the bill is still in its early stages, it is, apparently beginning to gain support. If approved, it would be down to “local communities to then petition their local government with at least 10% of voters calling for a vote on legalizing betting in their area.”

Staples said: “Billions of dollars leave the state of Tennessee to our neighboring states with casino and table gambling. So this is a new stream of revenue that the federal government is allowing the states to take advantage of.”

Staples went on to explain that he and his team are in the process of drafting a new state-specific sports betting bill that would specifically look at taxing operators with proceeds going directly to educational purposes. If the bill ends up being approved, it would enable councilts in Memphis and three other large cities in Tennessee to allocate sports betting locations.

When talking about the breakdown of taxes collected, Staples said that 40% would go to the state general fund, 30% would go to community and tech colleges, with the remaining 30% going to local governments.

The bill, in general, has proved popular so far – although not everyone feels as though it’s a good idea. Dr. Ted Bender, from the Turning Point and Addiction Campuses is insisting on more studies to show whether or not the bill could increase the number of Americans showing signs of problem gambling.

He says: “It’ll be interesting to see, if this bill passes, if that increases the gambling problem in this country or it just stays the same and the money is just rerouted to different places,” he said. “I would really hope that the lawmakers strongly consider putting money towards mental health and addiction treatment as a way to kind of help people who are struggling with this in the first place.”

Tennessee joins a number of U.S. states that have passed or are looking at sports betting legislation. While some have succeeded, not all states have been so keen on the idea, with New York state closing for summer with no bill being introduced. This was a surprise, as their neighbor – New Jersey – did, successfully manage to do so. Many believed that New York would follow suit.

Other states that have successfully passed legislation include Washington D.C – with their voting panel voting in favour of the bill 11-2. Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island, New Mexico and West Virginia have also all legalized sports betting.

South Carolina is a state that is not managing to progress with legalization however, and the notorious anti-gambling state has no casinos, and both poker and sports betting are illegal. Only bingo and certain types of lottery are currently permitted, so it’s clear that not all states are approaching the topic with such an open mind.