Tri-Cities lawmakers respond to Supreme Court decision to let states legalize sports betting


The Supreme Court has given states the green light to legalize betting on sports.

On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a longtime federal law that banned gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.

States that would now want to take advantage, would have to pass their own legislation allowing it.
News Channel 11’s Elizabeth Kuebel spent the day contacting state representatives across the Tri-Cities region, posing the question – is sports betting something the Tennessee or Virginia legislatures would enact?

Sports betting is something that state lawmakers from both Virginia and Tennessee said seems unlikely to happen here anytime soon, though the recent Supreme Court decision now opens the door for states to allow it.

“With the composition of the legislature in both houses the way it is right now, I don’t think it’s something that the legislature would really be looking at doing, in at least in the near future,” said Representative Bud Hulsey.

Previously, Nevada was the only state where a person could bet on the results of a single game, but the Supreme Court on Monday lifted that restriction, giving states the option to legalize sports betting.

Tennessee senator Jon Lundberg told News Channel 11 in a statement: “I’m certain the conversation will take place, but I don’t see sports betting being enacted anytime soon in Tennessee.  I have not heard talk about gambling being a missed opportunity in Tennessee.”

Across state lines, in Virginia, Delegate Terry Kilgore said: “I do not believe that Virginia will approve sports gambling. We have had legislation in the past that was filed and it fails to get out of Committee.”

A similar story for the Tennessee legislature. In fact, Hulsey says gambling was recently addressed, but the bill didn’t make it far.

“Last session we had a bill came through to open up horse racing in Tennessee again. That bill didn’t make it out of the subcommittee, so like I say I don’t think that this is going to be something that’s going to pass the House and Senate anytime soon,” Hulsey said.

Something else we wanted to know – would online sports gambling be illegal moving forward in Tennessee? Representative David Hawk told us a bill that was passed in 2016 allowed online gambling in Tennessee through websites like Fan Duel and Draft Kings.

According to the American Gaming Association, Americans wager about $150 billion on sports each year illegally.

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