CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers made online sports betting legal April 30, 2019. It went into effect July 1.
But now 9 months later, people still can’t legally gamble on games until regulations are set, according to board members like John Vallient Jr.
According to the law, the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation and a board of nine appointed people have to set the rules for betting first.
NewsChannel 9 spoke to a few of the people who are creating the regulations. The board so far includes:
Vallient says Governor Bill Lee still needs to appoint the ninth board member.
The Tennessee Lottery says they just met with the board Tuesday to go over drafted rules.
Some of the drafted rules in the spotlight include an 85% cap on winnings. Lee says this means smaller earnings for players.
Lee wrote a six page letter to cover his feedback on proposed rules. He believes the 85% cap will hurt players and the state.
He believes if they take a smaller portion from players on the front end, more people will play and the state will end up with a bigger pot.
Lee says the smaller prize pool will make players turn to other states or illegal gambling outlets instead. Therefore, not producing the funding for scholarships, mental health programs and other state issues lawmakers hope to tackle with this new law.
"In order to make this successful for all the ways the statute defines, that includes helping people go to college, mental health counseling for people addicted to gambling and helping cities like Chattanooga with infrastructure needs," said Lee.
Vallient doesn’t expect online sports gaming to be legal until April or May of 2020. Lee expects the summer to be a more realistic goal.
Only players 21-years-old and older are allowed to bet.
The board and the Tennessee Lottery are set to meet February 18 to vote on the final set of rules.
Georgia lawmakers are considering legalizing sports betting as well in the 2020 legislature. If they do, it will require a two thirds vote to approve it as well as allowing voters to cast their say on the ballot.