Online sports betting to become law in Tennessee this summer

Online sports betting to become law in Tennessee this summer

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is not a fan of gambling, but his spokesperson says he will let this bill allowing online sport betting to become law without his signature.

"The best part of this for the state of Tennessee is the opportunity it's going to provide in education," State Representative Antonio Parkinson of Memphis said.

He voted yes to legalize online sports betting in Tennessee because it will help send more kids to college.

"This will help to get more money put into the coffers for our Hope scholarships and hopefully help a lot of students and families," Representative Parkinson said.

Online sports betting is projected to bring in $50 million a year to the state, with $40 million going to the lottery fund and education, $7.6 million for local government infrastructure projects,and $2.5 million for mental health services.

Dr. Jim Whelan is the director of the University of Memphis Gambling Clinic - the only state-funded gambling Treatment facility in Tennessee.

He says the danger with this new law is that gambling just got easier.

"It's available 24/7 and it's available on their phones, so the access we moved from traveling to a casino to now sitting at your desk to make wagers," Dr. Whelan said.

WMC Action News 5 political analyst Mike Nelson says there is an upside to Tennessee passing this new law.

"The question is where are people gonna lose their money? And if they lose it in Arkansas or Mississippi...it stays there. If they lose it in Memphis or Shelby County...some of it, at least, goes to college scholarships," Nelson said.

Sportsbooks will have to pay an annual license fee of $750,000 to operate in Tennessee.

Online sports betting in the state becomes legal July 1.

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