gambling

Sports betting bill becomes law without Lee sigature

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at an economic development announcement in Nashville on March 20, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has allowed the online sports gambling bill to become law without his signature.

Here is his letter to House Speaker Glen Casada explaining his actions:

RE: House Bill 0001/Senate Bill 0016 Speaker Casada:

I am letting House Bill 0001 become law without my signature.

I do not believe the expansion of gambling through online sports betting is in the best interest of our state, but I appreciate the General Assembly’s efforts to remove brick and mortar establishments. This bill ultimately did not pursue casinos, themost harmful form of gambling, which I believe prey on poverty and encourage criminal activity.

Compromise is a central part of governing, but I remain philosophically opposed to gambling and will not be lending my signature to support this cause. We see this issue differently but let me be cle ar: any future efforts to expand gambling or introduce casinos in Tennessee will assure my veto.

Respectfully,

Bill Lee

AG says Tennessee could legalize sports gambling without constitutional change

Tennessee could enact sports betting without changes to the state constitution, according to an attorney general’s opinion obtained by the Daily Memphian’s Sam Stockard.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s opinion is dated Friday but has not yet been posted to his website. It states that the General Assembly “may legalize the contest solely through legislative action without a constitutional amendment” as long as the sport is based on skill and not predominantly on “chance.”

The Shelby County Commission on Monday voted to add sports betting on Beale Street to its legislative agenda for the year.

Republican Gov.-elect Bill Lee has said he doesn’t favor expanding gambling in the state.

Slatery’s opinion was written in response to a question by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), who has said he is interested in pursuing legislation on sports gambling next session. Rep. Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) has already filed a bill seeking to allow sports betting.

Slatery’s opinion says betting would involve only “actual sporting events,” and not fantasy sports or amusement devices.