David Williams | 29 May 2019
In a bold and historic move, the US state of Tennessee has passed the very first mobile-only sports betting bill. Since the landmark ruling by the United States Supreme Court in May 2018 to abolish the 26-year old PASPA Act, states across the US have been given the go-ahead to legalize sports betting.
New Jersey led the way, opening its doors to sports betting almost immediately after the May 2018 decision. Since then, other states including West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware have also started taking bets, while many others are close to launch. Tennessee has never been known as a gambling friendly state. In fact, the closest thing they have to betting is the state lottery and a limited horse racing betting, so the bold moves comes as a bit of a surprise.
With no casinos inside the state borders it makes sense that Tennessee would be the first to go mobile-only. There were discussions about implementing retail locations and standalone kiosks, but after all was said and done, the mobile only bill made it all the way through legislature, and onto the governor’s desk. Going mobile is a good move for the state, since it stands to bring in higher tax revenue than those considering retail betting only. If we look at New Jersey, 80% of all sports wagering is done online. It seems people simply prefer to place their bets at home or on their mobile.
Discussions about legalizing sports betting in Tennessee first started in 2018. After PASPA was deemed unconstitutional in May, the ball got rolling. In November the HB0001 was pre-filed under the name the Tennessee Sports Betting Act. In April this year, the House State Committee voted to advance the act for governmental review. On April 24th lawmakers voted to approve the bill. It was then received a 19-12 senate vote, with the governor saying he will allow the bill to pass without his signature.
At this time there is no official launch date for sports betting sites to go live in Tennessee. The legislation will come into effect on the 1st of July, but with no prior gambling experience in the state, it may take a few months for sites to go live. Thus a realistic launch date of mid-2020 has been mentioned and is more than likely the reality