Tennessee likely will soon join the list of states that have legalized online sports gambling.
The measure passed the state legislature Tuesday and is headed to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee, whose office says will let it become law despite his personal opposition to gambling.
“The Governor has said he does not believe that the expansion of gambling is best, but he recognizes that many in the legislature found this to be an issue they want to explore further,” Laine Arnold, Lee’s spokeswoman, said in a text. “He plans to let this become law without signature.”
The bill would prohibit brick-and-mortar locations for sports gambling. Instead, bettors would place their wagers online, and they would have to be physically in Tennessee for those bets to be accepted.
It was unclear until Tuesday whether Lee was going to veto the bill, with some House members holding out hope that he would
“I hope to God that Gov. Bill Lee will veto this bill if does pass,” Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, said during a House floor debate last week. “I’m asking him to do that right here in front of everybody.”
But the measure’s House sponsor, Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville, has argued the legislation will allow Tennessee to capture the money currently lost to other states that allow sports betting. Staples said he was in conversation with Lee’s office and had hope that Lee would come around.
“We came out with a good document The dollars are going in the right place,” Staples said Tuesday. “It’s a bipartisan effort.”