Gov. Lee Plans to Allow Online Sports Gambling Bill to Become Law Without Signing It


Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to let an online sports gambling bill become law without signing it, multiple news outlets are reporting.

The Tennessee Journal: On the Hill reported:

“The governor has said he does not believe that the expansion is best, but he recognizes that many in the legislature found this to be an issue they want to explore further,” Lee spokeswoman Laine Arnold said in a statement. “He plans to let this become law without his signature.”

The Tennessee Education Lottery will be responsible for carrying out the online sports betting program, the Chattanooga Times Free Press said. There will be a 20 percent tax, which is expected to generate $41 million for the lottery, $7.6 million for local government revenue and $2.5 million to provide anti-gambling addiction programs through the Tennessee Department of Mental Health.

The original version of the bill would have permitted gambling shops in physical locations but that provision was dropped after the governor opposed it, the Times Free Press said.

The bills are HB0001 in the House and SB0016 in the Senate, according to the tracking information, which is available here.

The Senate on Tuesday passed the bill, with three amendments, by a 19-12 vote, according to the tracking information. The House, also on Tuesday, voted 51-40 to approve the Senate’s amendments on the bill by a 51-40 vote (with 50 needed for approval). The House had approved a version of the bill last week on a 58-37 vote.

Fourteen Republican senators and the Senate’s five Democrats voted for the bill, ABC News said, and all 12 “no” votes came from Republicans, including Lt. Gov.-Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-TN-05).

Lee also had to consider the drawbacks of a veto in Tennessee, where lawmakers would need only the same majority votes required to pass a bill to override a veto.

Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill recently said the lure of significant tax revenue from online gambling, combined with the fact that surrounding states are already receiving revenue from Tennesseans crossing state lines, would cause legislators to think twice about rejecting the legislation.

Sports betting is now legally happening in eight states, according to a story by

James P. Whelan, co-director at the Institute for Gambling Education and Research at the University of Memphis, told the gambling news website that state legislators never contacted his organization for input.

Parts of the bill limit some aspects of betting, but Whelan says there needs to be “more regulatory control over what is offered, advertised and overseen.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Background Photo “Sports Betting” by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar. CC BY 2.0.






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One Thought to “Gov. Lee Plans to Allow Online Sports Gambling Bill to Become Law Without Signing It”

  1. 83ragtop50

    No backbone for the governor? Why doesn’t he veto this bad piece of legislation?