Last week, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill that would allow the state to begin sports betting operations via online operators.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is not in favor of the bill, but recognizes that the legislature is likely to override any veto that he might put on the bill. Press secretary Laine Arnold, via the Tennessean:
The reason that Gov. Lee isn’t bothering to mount any resistance to the bill is simply down to how Tennessee legislative powers work.
Tennessee law says that, in case a governor vetoes a bill, the state House and Senate simply need to approve the bill again with a majority vote.
What it means is that if a bill has already reached the governor’s desk, it will likely become law regardless of what the governor does. Should the governor attempt to veto the bill, the legislature can simply pass it again and make it into law.
The law was written such to limit the governor’s veto power, preventing them from being able to veto things that have a majority support from the legislature. However, the unintentional consequence is that it effectively eliminates the veto power of the governor
Back to the bill at hand. Senate Bill 16 passed the state Senate 19-12, followed by the state House 58-37. It wasn’t a landslide by any stretch of the imagination, but it was by a wide enough margin to think that the state legislature would pass the bill a second time if it's presented to them.
The bill, interestingly, is for online gambling only. Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks would still be illegal within the state. But having seen the profits online gambling provides in New Jersey, it’s reasonable for Tennessee to want a cut of the profits.
The projected tax revenue from the sports betting bill is hovering around $50 million per year. The proceeds would be sent to education, local government, and treatment for gambling addiction.
Nashville Senator Steve Dickerson said the bill would help protect consumers by legalizing betting and providing regulations, and would "bring the illegal online sports gambling market into the sunshine." The hope is that the legal sportsbooks would effectively remove Tennessee from the offshore market.
There are no restrictions on sports being offered, meaning fans of the University of Tennessee will be able to bet on their beloved Volunteers, unlike states like New Jersey that prohibit betting on sporting events occurring within the state or games that involve teams based within the state.
The one major caveat is that athletes, coaches, team owners, sports betting operators, and others who are involved with said sports would be prohibited from all sports betting. Doing so would be considered a misdemeanor in Tennessee.