Tennessee online betting bill passed by House

25 April 2019

Tennessee is closing in on legal sports betting after the state’s House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday (April 24), while its companion bill is headed for a floor vote in the Senate.

HB0001, introduced in January by Representative Rick Staples, has undergone a series of changes during its passage through the House. Language permitting bricks and mortar betting has been removed, meaning Tennessee would become the first state to legalise online wagering only.

Fees for applications and licences have also been changed, with operators now required to pay a non-refundable application fee of $50,000 (£38,778/$44,857).

The licence fee has been raised significantly from the $7,500 originally proposed. Operators whose principal place of business (such as company headquarters or main casino) are located within Tennessee’s borders will now have to pay $650,000, which increases to $750,000 for out-of-state operators.

The tax rate, meanwhile, has been doubled to 20% of gross gaming revenue. Of this sum, 80% will be allocated to the state’s Lottery for Education fund, with a further 15% going to the state General Fund. The remaining 5% will be transferred to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Finally, language restricting the state to issuing a maximum of ten licences has been removed, meaning there is no limit to how many operators can apply.

HB0001 was passed with 58 Representatives voting in favour and 37 against yesterday (April 24), and will now be transferred to the Senate and combined with its companion bill, SB0016. SB0016 is set for a full Senate vote, having been passed by the Chamber’s Government Operations, State and Local Government, and Finance, Ways, and Means Committees.

Image: Famartin