Will Tennessee bet on sports gambling?

Hank Hayes • May 14, 2018 at 5:00 PM

KINGSPORT – Don’t bet on Tennessee lawmakers to allow sports gambling in the state, two current lawmakers noted on Monday.

Currently, sports gambling under federal law is allowed only in Nevada and a few other exceptions, but the U.S. Supreme Court by a 6-3 vote announced a decision Monday to enable more states to allow these types of wagers.

What's at stake?

Of the $58 billion wagered last year on NFL and college football games, $56 billion was bet illegally through bookies or online operations, according to Nevada Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, a Democrat, in her remarks on "The Future of Sports Betting."

The National Conference of State Legislatures said the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Christie vs. NCAA, in which former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, argued that federal law on sports gambling "amounts to unconstitutional commandeering."

Has the Tennessee legislature thought about sports gambling?

Tennessee state Sen. Jon Lundberg and state Rep. Bud Hulsey don’t think Tennessee will be in the mix of about 30 states looking to legally get into the sports gambling business.

“No. Not in the forseeable future,” said Lundberg, R-Bristol. “We haven’t talked about sports betting … I haven’t seen any major push or initiative at all.”

Lundberg noted state Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, filed legislation this year to set up a Tennessee Horse Racing Commission to regulate pari-mutuel wagering in the state, but the bill did not move forward.

Hulsey, R-Kingsport, agree he doesn’t see sports gambling happening with the GOP-controlled legislature.

“You may have a portion of folks who may be OK with that, but I don’t think the majority of the legislature would support that,” Hulsey pointed out. “The way it is right now, I don’t think so.”

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