Tennessee sports betting bill getting makeover with touches from the top

Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A bill that would allow sports betting in Tennessee is being re-worked heavily with some input from the Lee administration. 

“We are looking at what type of vehicle we would use to manage sports betting,” said House sponsor Rep. Rick Staples of Knoxville. 

That means a series of amendments are being prepared for a bill that would still legalize sports betting, but how big, what kind of way it’s done and how much tax might be charged on wagers are some of what’s being re-evaluated. 

Rep. Staples filed the original measure as House bill number one in an effort to keep sports betters from flocking across borders to neighboring states. 

“We are trying to capture dollars instead of dollars leaving the state,” said Rep. Staples after telling he asked a committee for another week to prepare the bill. “You’ll always have people illegally betting. We are trying to make it legal and most importantly, get dollars for locals to take advantage of for their needs.” 

It would mean money from a sports wager tax going back to local governments for things like infrastructure. 

On the campaign trail, Governor Bill Lee expressed opposition to sports betting, but there is word his administration is talking with sports betting supporters on ways to improve the legislation. 

It comes as key players for both the House and Senate members told News 2 privately that a sports-betting bill will pass this year in Tennessee, but the form is far from certain. 

Late Tuesday afternoon, a Lee spokesperson Laine Arnold sent an email to News 2 on the administration’s current sports betting position. 

“Governor Lee continues to believe that gambling expansion is not in the best interest of our state,” said Arnold. “The Lee administration will often work with lawmakers to improve a bill that impacts the state’s economic and social health, even if it’s not something we plan to support.” 

It’s not clear when any of the proposed changes will be in amendment form, but Rep. Staples hopes to have them by next week. 

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