Tennessee House Bill 1267, which would move sports betting regulatory duties to an entity currently operating underneath the Tennessee Education Lottery, cleared the House Government Operations Committee by an oral vote in super brief hearing Monday. The bill would hand regulatory duties to the Sports Wagering Advisory Council, which was created under the 2019 Sports Gaming Act. The SWAC currently has merely an advisory role to the lottery, which is the regulator.
Under the proposal, the lottery would effectively be a consultant on sports betting, with decisions being left to the council, which currently includes an executive with the Memphis Grizzlies.
“Right now there is a SWAC that exists,” Rep. John Gillespie, who is backing the bill, said during the hearing. “I believe that the lottery and sports wagering are two different areas. I believe it’s best that they focus on their respective topics.”
Bill could get to House floor this week
There were only a handful of minutes worth of discussion on the proposal. Some policymakers expressed concern that the bill would add expenses to the state. Through the first five months of legal sports wagering in the state, Tennessee has collected $15.5 million in taxes from operators. HB 1267 could cost the state a seven-figure sum annually, according to comments made at the hearing Monday.
The companion bill, SB 588, cleared the full Senate unanimously April 22. Both HB 1267 and SB 588 were introduced in the first half of February, with SB 588 hitting the table first.
After Monday’s successful oral vote, HB 1267 heads to the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee for more discussion. The bill could be up for a House vote this week, as the current Tennessee legislative session is slated to adjourn on May 7. The nine-member SWAC is scheduled to meet May 11.
It’s unclear what position Gov. Bill Lee has on the legislation. In 2019, it was clear Lee wanted the lottery to oversee sports betting, as opposed to creating a new regulatory body.