NASHVILLE, Tennessee – A bill to authorize and regulate on-line sports betting in Tennessee was approved by the Tennessee General Assembly on Wednesday with a vote of 58 Ayes, 37 Noes and 2 Present and Not Voting.
HB0001, filed on November 7, 2018, was sponsored by Knoxville Democrat Rick Staples in response to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. NCAA allowing states the ability to authorize and regulate sports betting.
“The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act,” mandates that wagers on sporting events go through a licensee, which will have to pay a non-refundable application fee in the amount of $50,000 and an annual licensing fee of $750,000 as part of the application process.
The bill describes a “sporting event” as any professional, collegiate or Olympic sporting or athletic event sanctioned by a national or international organization or association. It excludes horse racing, but includes “E-sports,” or any multi-player video game played competitively for spectators in person or remote connection.
A “bettor” is defined as anyone 21 years or older and physically present in Tennessee when placing a wager.
A tax of 22.5 percent of the adjusted gross income of the licensee will be collected as a privilege tax, payable monthly.
Eighty percent of the privilege tax will be distributed to the lottery for education account.
Another 15 percent will go to the Department of Finance and Administration on a quarterly basis to be maintained in a separate fund designated as the “nonprofit and local government grant fund.” The monies in the fund must be used for projects and programs of local governments and non-profit corporations domiciled in the state and in operation for at least five years. The funds shall not be expended without specific and direct appropriations from the Tennessee General Assembly.
The remaining 5 percent will be directed to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to develop and establish treatment programs and resources for gambling addiction and compulsive gambling.
The Act calls for a sports wagering advisory council of the lottery corporation to be appointed by the governor, striving to ensure diversity and experience in certain criteria with the purpose of advising best practices on sports wagering, providing administrative and technical assistance with respect to sports wagering and carrying out other duties as prescribed.
After about an hour and a half of debate and discussion, the vote tally was 58 Ayes, 37 Nays and 2 PNV.
Representatives voting Aye were: Bill Beck (D-Nashville), Rush Bricken (R-Tullahoma), Kent Calfee (R-Kingston), Karen Camper (D-Memphis), Dale Carr (R-Sevierville), Jesse Chism (D-Memphis), John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville), Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis), Michael Curcio (R-Dickson), Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville), Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville), Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown), Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville), Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville), Bruce Griffey (R-Paris), Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga), Mark Hall (R-Cleveland), G. A. Hardaway (D-Memphis), Esther Helton (R-East Ridge), Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville), Jason Hodges (D-Clarksville), Dan Howell (R-Georgetown), Darren Jernigan (D-Nashville), Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville), Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), Doc Kumar (R-Springfield), Justin Lafferty (R-Knoxville), London Lamar (D-Memphis), Mary Littleton (R-Dickson), Harold Love (D-Nashville), Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville), Larry Miller (D-Memphis), Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville), Jerome Moon (R-Maryville), Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin), Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), Jason Potts (D-Nashville), Jason Powell (D-Nashville), John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville), Iris Rudder (R-Winchester), Lowell Russell (R-Vonore), Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton), Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), Johnny Shaw (D-Memphis), Robin Smith (R-Hixson), Rick Staples (D-Knoxville), Dwayne Thompson (D-Cordova), Rick Tillis (R-Lewisburg), Joe Towns (D-Memphis), Ron Travis (R-Dayton), Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville), Sam Whitson (R-Franklin), Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville), Dave Wright (R-Corryton), Mr. Speaker Casada (R-Franklin) — 58.
Representatives voting No were: Charlie Baum (R-Murfreesboro), Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon), David Byrd (R-Waynesboro), Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah), Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka), Mark Cochran (R-Englewood), Jim Coley (R-Bartlett), John Crawford (R-Kingsport), John DeBerry (D-Memphis), Clay Doggett (R-Pulaski), Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), Ron Gant (R-Rossville), Curtis Halford (R-Dyer), Kirk Haston (R-Lobelville), David Hawk (R-Greenville), Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain), Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough), Timothy Hill (R-Blountville), Andy Holt (R-Dresden), Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport), Chris Hurt (R-Halls), Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown), William Lamberth (R-Portland), Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington), Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), Jay Reedy (R-Erin), Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro), Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station), Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta), Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna), Mike Stewart (D-Nashville), Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro), Chris Todd (R-Madison County), Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough), Terry Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster), John Mark Windle (D-Livingston), Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) — 37.
Representatives Present and Not Voting were: Jason Powers (D-Nashville), Mark White (R-Memphis) — 2.
The Senate version of the bill, SB0016 sponsored by Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), was recommended for passage by the Finance, Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday and will be scheduled for the Senate floor by the Calendar Committee.
Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.