Fantasy sports gaming bill scores with Senate

Fantasy sports gambling companies and their estimated 1 million Tennessee customers would be on solid legal ground under a bill approved by state senators on a 29-1 vote, reports the Times-Free Press.

“There’s some question right now,” Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, said after the Senate action. “It’s been going on for several years. Estimates are a million people in Tennessee. It’s like 55 million nationwide.”

The bill (SB2109) is still moving through the House.

Johnson said he and other proponents have been working with state Attorney General Herbert Slatery, first establishing that fantasy sports gambling involves some skill and therefore isn’t a lottery, which the Tennessee Constitution bans except for the state lottery.

While Slatery did not issue a formal legal opinion on fantasy sports, Johnson said, he and his attorneys did provide “guidance that they did not see fantasy sports as a lottery. That means the constitution’s [issue] is OK.

“Then you have to deal with it in statute,” Johnson said. “Some might argue it does” violate state anti-gambling laws. “Some might argue it doesn’t.”

So the bill would ensure it is legal. It also requires the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office to set up guidelines for companies to register and charge fees to handle the process.

Johnson, who is Senate Commerce Committee chairman, also said he thinks registration would establish legal presence in Tennessee and require fantasy sports gambling companies to pay some corporate taxes to the state.