Longshot TN Proposal Could Bring Casinos, Likely With Retail Sportsbooks To State

The gears have started moving for a possible Las Vegas-style casino industry in the state of Tennessee.

House Joint Resolution No. 93, introduced Wednesday, proposes an amendment to authorize casino gaming, requiring that state revenues derived from casinos be allocated for K-12 education projects and programs as determined by the legislature.

Legislation laying out details of a possible casino industry in the Volunteer State hasn’t been filed.

HJR 93 was filed by Rep. Jason Powell, a Democrat. The sponsor of the 2019 Sports Gaming Act, which legalized and mandated the state regulation of online/mobile sportbooks, was also a Democrat. There are currently four such books live in Tennessee cyberspace, and another three that have received approval and expected to launch soon.

It is unclear what kind of chances the proposed amendment would have, given Gov. Bill Lee’s well-known opposition to further major gambling expansion in the state. Lee, a Republican, reluctantly let the Sports Gaming Act become law in mid-2019 without his signature.

Proposed locations for casinos in Tennessee haven’t been pitched.

Casinos in Tennessee — which already has a robust tourism industry — could be lucrative, as neighboring states Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia do not have any.

In addition to online/mobile sportsbooks, the state has a lottery.

While HJR 93 doesn’t mention retail sportsbooks, which are prohibited under the Sports Gaming Act, it would be unlikely that Las Vegas-style casinos would be built sans retail sportsbooks. That would be a real head-scratcher under full-fledged casino authorization.