KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A state representative from Knoxville has authored a bill that would legalize sports betting in Tennessee.
House Representative and Assistant Minority Leader Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) filed Bill HB0001, also known as the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, for introduction on Wednesday, November 7.
The Tennessee Sports Gambling Act would legalize sports betting in local jurisdictions that approve sports betting by a local election. This means even if it is approved by the state, it would still have to be approved community-by-community via referendum similar to recent local votes on wine being sold in grocery stores.
If approved, the bill would impose a 10 percent tax on revenue from sports betting. Forty percent of the gambling tax would go the Tennessee general fund, 30 percent to Tennessee community colleges and applied technology schools, and the remaining 30 percent would go to local governments for education and infrastructure.
Staples told ESPN that the bill could be amended later to include an “opt out” for colleges that request one.
Staples isn’t the only one to express support for legalized sports betting in Tennessee.
In May, Republican State Senator Brian Kelsey tweeted that he plans to introduce legislation to legalize and tax sports gambling.
Based on your comments today, I plan to introduce legislation to allow sports betting in TN with the tax proceeds to go to K-12 education. It appears this will not require a constitutional amendment, but the legislative attorneys are still researching it. https://t.co/Eqxpt7N0dg— Brian Kelsey (@BrianKelsey) May 14, 2018
Governor-elect Bill Lee voiced his opposition to legalized sports gambling on the campaign trail.
“I think the lottery shows and has had the most negative effect on the lowest-income citizens in our state, and I think that would have the same effect with sports betting. That’s why I’ve been opposed to it,” Lee said during a gubernatorial debate in Nashville.
The bill will have to be formally filed after the Tennessee legislative session convenes on January 8, 2019. Staples told ESPN if the bill is passed it would go into effect on July 1, 2019.