A house state committee has approved a bill that seeks expansion of gambling and legalizing mobile online gambling in Tennessee.
House Minority Leader Karen Camper said, “We saw this as an opportunity for Beale Street to have people from the world coming and just thought it would be a great economic opportunity for us,”
While Governor Bill Lee has already made his stand clear and maintains that he is against any expansion of gambling in the state, he asserted that he would go through all the bills that come to him and then decide whether he’ll sign it or not.
Governor Lee explained his stand and said: “We try to work with legislators to make a bill as palatable and as beneficial as it can be, but if we can’t get it to a point where we think it’s acceptable, then I won’t sign it. However, this bill is moving, and we’ll see where it ends up.”
The Bill has been introduced by Rep. Rick Staples, and after getting approved by a voice vote in the State Committee, it has now moved to the Government Operations Committee.
Rep Staples has amended the previous bill and has removed brick-and-mortar betting establishments which is now replaced with an online casino and gambling app. The licenses for gambling app as suggested in the bill would be issued by the State Lottery Commission, and the number of permits has been fixed to a maximum of ten.
The operators who would run such online mobile gambling operations would have to pay a “20 percent privilege tax” and a one time fee of $75,000 to get started with the business.
While there has been an undercurrent about legalizing online mobile gambling as several lawmakers agree that illegal gambling is already ongoing and that the state is losing revenue if these are not regulated, concerns are also that the state is losing revenue to Mississippi and Arkansas casinos.
Camper, a co-sponsor of the legislation of the new legislation raised his concerns and said: “I think once members see the benefit to us fiscally and the revenue it’s going to generate for our state, it may be another opportunity for compromise.”