Tennessee Becomes Latest State to Legalize Sports Betting
I attend college in the state of Tennessee and now live in a suburb just outside of Nashville. I’m originally from Chicago so initially, living in the “south” was a bit of an adjustment — the food, accents, churches every eight feet, etc. Now that I’m older, I’ve seen the area evolve. Twenty years ago, there wasn’t anything “hipster” about Nashville and yet here we are. Well over half of the people I meet through my son’s school and sports activities are transplants from other places in the country. Asked why they moved here and common responses include, “warm”, “cheap”, “no state income tax”, and a “good job market.” I even know a family who literally Googled “best places in America to live” and immediately moved here from California. The reason I bring some of these things up is that Tennessee just became yet another state to legalize sports betting. And unlike neighboring Mississippi, will do so without any brick-and-mortar casinos but rather a mobile/online only format. Tennessee claims that sports betting has the potential to rake in $50 million in revenue a year. And it’s those types of financial projections that are getting more and more states to the betting window; even those with a conservative background. During my time in the Volunteer State here I’ve witnessed the development of a lottery, wine being sold in grocery stores, liquor stores open on Sundays, and now legalized sports betting. All of those “advances” were obviously created with financial gains in mind; “sin taxes” abound! This quote pretty much sums up what every state on the fence about sports betting is currently thinking…
“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,” said Laine Arnold, Lee’s press secretary. “He plans to let this become law without his signature.”
I’m not a political person. Ask me my stance on various “issues” and I’ll likely say I’m too busy handicapping whatever sport is in season to care. I am however surprised Tennessee joined the sports betting party — or at least surprised they weren’t one of the last to attend as it looks as if it is headed towards near nationwide legalization. Outside of Nashville and Memphis, the state is as mentioned still pretty conservative — hence why our Republican governor didn’t think the move was “best.” I’d like to think some of the more progressive things that have occurred over the last two decades helped make the transition to legalized sports betting easier but let’s be honest, no matter what the state — blue, red, liberal, conservative — the motive, for better or worse, is and always will be cash. Will it be the $50 million those who voted “yes” are projecting? I’d lean towards the under as I do with every state’s pre-launch claims. But for the time being, at least it’s here and while I’m not a “hot button issue” type of guy, I can’t help but be pro-sports betting considering it’s my livelihood. Most importantly, I look forward to seeing what legalized sports betting in Tennessee will look like and whether or not it’s a viable option for someone who makes his living off it.