The first bill filed in the State House will likely be one of the more debated.
HB0001, which legalizes sports gambling in Tennessee, went before the Departments and Agencies Subcommittee on Wednesday.
“I think we have to ask the tough questions,” noted Rep. Bill Sanderson during the session. “We have to dig into these bills.”
If passed, the bill would place a 10% tax on sports gambling, which some estimate could generate around $30 million a year.
Of that money, 30% would go toward K-12 education and local infrastructure.
Concern for some on the bill though is possible long-term effects, including Gov. Bill Lee on the campaign trail.
“I think that organized betting frequently develops into organized crime that we don’t need in our state,” explained Gov. Lee, during a Gubernatorial debate.
But many argue sports gambling is in our state already, through illegal offshore websites.
“You could go on your phone right now, type in a couple of web addresses, and place a bet on a game tonight within a matter of minutes,” noted Scott Ward, an attorney representing FanDuel and Draft Kings.
“So we really have the choice of capturing that tax revenue from that sports book,” added Rep. Bill Beck. “Or letting those companies, that are operating illegally throughout the United States capture that revenue.”
The bill puts the option, whether or not to allow sports betting, into the hands of local governments statewide.
Though HB1 passed through the subcommittee on Wednesday, this is the first of several votes the bill will face.
Meanwhile, a similar bill is making its way through the State Senate.