Tag Archives: gambling

TN begins licensing fantasy sports operators

News release from TN Secretary of State’s office
Nashville, Tennessee – (July 5, 2016) – The Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming has a new name. Effective July 1, it’s now the Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming. The division’s new title is a result of the Fantasy Sports Act of 2016 approved by the General Assembly and signed into law in April.

The new law requires fantasy sports operators to obtain a license with the division. The license requirement applies to fantasy sports operators who offer daily and season-long contests that charge players an entry fee to assemble imaginary teams and subsequently offer prizes as a result of the outcome of those games. Examples include DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo! Sports.

There is no requirement for players to register with the Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming. Free games where players do not pay an entry fee to win a prize are also excluded from the law. Continue reading

On legalizing fantasy sports gambling in TN

Without fanfare, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill pushed by online giants DraftKings and FanDuel allowing the companies and approximately 1 million Tennessee players who are already participating to do so legally, reports the Times-Free Press. The legislation will create an exemption from state anti-gambling provisions.

Sponsored by Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, and Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, the legislation was pushed by the companies here in anticipation of legal trouble after attorneys general in a number of states, including New York, Texas and Nevada, ruled fantasy sports violated their laws.

…Not long after the bill initially passed the Tennessee Senate, state Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued an opinion declaring that fantasy sports are indeed gambling — and illegal under Tennessee law.

While proponents said the online games are based on players’ skill in picking their teams, Slatery said there’s an element of chance and participants stand to gain financially. He said that’s gambling in Tennessee, and it’s illegal. The legal opinion was requested by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

Early on, DraftKings and FanDuel were taking no chances.

According to filings with the Tennessee Ethics Commission, they hired McMahan Winstead, a Nashville lobbying firm whose clients have included tobacco companies, liquor stores and payday lenders. The companies also enlisted Washington, D.C., lobbyist Scott Ward, who serves as government affairs counsel for the law firm Orrick. And DraftKings hired former House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner.

At least eight lobbyists were registered to speak on the bill.
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Horse racing study launched by legislature

The House approved and sent to the governor today a bill that tales a first step toward setting up a horse race gambling system in Tennessee.

The bill (SB1738) passed the Senate 24-2 on April 7 under sponsorship of Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. It was approved by the House today 50-32 with Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, as sponsor.

The measure sets up a seven-member “State Horse Racing Advisory Committee,” appointed by the governor, that must come up with its recommendations by July 1, 2018.

Horse race gambling was legalized years ago with a state Racing Commission named to oversee licensing and regulation – but no operations were ever established and the commission ceased to exist. In their comments, the sponsors said that one factor was that the state would get 5 percent of all proceeds – a figure they said was too high and discouraged people from investing in horse racing in Tennessee.

Niceley said in committee that he envisions small racing operations around the state at county fairs and the like as well as harness racing and steeplechase events.

AG: Fantasy sports are illegal gambling in TN

By Shelia Burke, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s attorney general has called fantasy sports contests illegal gambling.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued a formal opinion Tuesday that said fantasy sports betting violates state laws against gambling. He said that’s because participants pay an entry fee to win a prize and a portion of that fee goes to a pot where wins are paid out.

In fantasy sports, players assemble imaginary teams made up of professional sports figures. These virtual teams compete against each other based on how well the real professional players wind up performing in the real world. The attorney general said that while participants may use skill to select players, the actual performance of many athletes is often left to chance by things like the weather, injuries and referees

The attorney general’s opinion comes as states across the country have wrestled with the question of whether the popular games played by millions of Americans should be banned outright or face more regulation. Last year nearly 30 legislatures considered proposals to outright ban the games, legalize them or regulate them. Continue reading

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.

Haslam bets with Maryland gov on Lady Vols game (TN ribs vs. MD crabs)

News release from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, distributed to TN media by Gov. Bill Haslam:
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today challenged each other to a friendly wager, ahead of tonight’s “Elite 8” women’s basketball matchup between the #1 ranked University of Maryland Terrapins and the #2 University of Tennessee Volunteers.

Confident that the Terrapins will win, Governor Hogan called Governor Haslam, and they agreed to place the wager over a bushel of Maryland blue crabs and ribs from the world-famous Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous restaurant in Memphis.

“The Lady Terps are going to the Final 4; it’s that simple,” said Governor Hogan. “Don’t forget the barbecue sauce, Governor Haslam!”

The game airs tonight at 9 PM EST on ESPN.

Bill would bring back bingo for ‘nonpublic schools’

Bingo games to benefit charitable causes, explicitly banned in Tennessee after the 1980s “Rocky Top” state government corruption scandal, could return on a limited basis under legislation approved by a Senate committee.

“There’s nothing inherently evil about bingo,” Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, told the Senate State and Local Government Committee, adding those involved in the FBI investigation that led to more than 50 convictions “could have got into the same trouble” with “reverse lotteries or raffles.”

In the 1970s, Tennessee’s Legislature legalized bingo gambling for charity fundraising. The FBI probe found that many of the charities were bogus fronts for organized gambling activities and state enforcement officials — working under the Secretary of State’s office — had taken bribes and were otherwise actively involved with the gambling.

Secretary of State Gentry Crowell committed suicide in 1989 just before he was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury, which was widely expected to indict him.

The ban on bingo followed and continued even after lotteries were legalized following passage of a state constitutional amendment in 2002. In addition to authorizing a state-run lottery, current law allows charitable organizations to hold an annual event — each approved by the Legislature — that involves some types of gambling for fundraising. But bingo is still explicitly prohibited.

Senate Bill 349 would authorize “nonpublic schools” with IRS 501(c)3 charity status to hold an annual bingo gambling event to raise money, just as they could now for raffles, cakewalks and the like. Niceley said Heritage Christian Academy of Claiborne County asked him to sponsor the bill. Rep. John Holsclaw, R-Elizabethton, is House sponsor.
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Bill implementing Amendment 4 (veterans gambling) heads toward passage

News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE – Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) won approval of legislation in the Senate State and Local Government Committee today to allow 501 (c) (19) veterans organizations to raise funds for charitable purposes.

Senate Bill 325 is the final step in ensuring that Amendment 4 to the State Constitution, which won approval by voters in November, is enacted. The amendment gives veterans groups the same opportunity as 501 (c) (3) organizations to conduct an annual fundraising event like duck races, cake walks, raffles, and other games of chance.

Senator Crowe was the prime sponsor of Amendment 4 and Senator Norris is Chairman of the Veterans Subcommittee of the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

Amendment 4 received 69.6% of the vote, outpacing all other constitutional amendments on the ballot. Any funds raised by the games under the amendment must go to purposes that benefit the community, veterans or retired veterans.

“These veterans groups do a lot of good community service work and the passage of this amendment can help them in their efforts,” said Senator Norris. “Our legislation will allow this process to move forward and will ensure that the deadline affords these organizations enough time to get their applications in.”

Currently, 501 (c) (3) organizations must submit an application and all required attachments between July 1st and January 31st each year for an event which takes place between July 1 and June 30.

“Years ago, when the constitutional amendment allowing charitable gaming passed, our veterans were left out,” said Senator Crowe. “We have been working ever since to change the Constitution so they can raise charitable funds to benefit the less fortunate in our communities, like our wounded warriors.”

The bill now goes to the Senate floor for a final vote.

Note: A final Senate vote, that is. The House bill, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson, is still awaiting its first committee vote. Little doubt, of course, that it will be approved in due course.

Ragan to handle veterans gambling constitutional amendment; anticipates vote ‘soon’

Rep. John Ragan, an Air Force veteran, says he expects to move “soon” for House approval of a proposed amendment to the Tennessee constitution that would allow veterans groups to hold charity gambling events.

If approved by the House as expected, the measure (SJR60) will become the fourth proposed amendment to the state constitution appearing on the November ballot. The state Senate last year gave its final approval and only the House vote remains.

Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, took over handling of the resolution in the House from former Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta, who resigned from his seat last month. Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, was sponsor in the Senate.

A constitutional amendment legalizing lotteries in Tennessee, approved by voters in 2002, included a provision allowing charities organized under section “501 C 3” of the federal Internal Revenue Service law to hold annual gambling events for fundraising. By citing that specific section, veterans organizations — the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, for example — are effectively excluded because they are organized under a separate section, 501 C 19.

The proposal won unanimous approval of the House in the 107th General Assembly and Ragan says he anticipates no difficulty in winning approval of the 108th General Assembly this year by the necessary two-thirds majority.

Previously approved for statewide votes on Nov. 4 are proposed constitutional amendments that allow the Legislature to enact more stringent restrictions on abortion, to revise the state’s system for appointment of appellate court judges and to forever prohibit a tax on personal income in Tennessee.

Groups are already organizing campaigns to promote or oppose passage of the abortion and judicial selection amendment. Ragan said he anticipates there will also be an effort to push for a positive vote on the veterans amendment, probably led by veterans groups.

Senate Approves Charitable Gambling for Veterans

The Senate approved Thursday a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would allow veterans organizations to stage gambling events to raise money for themselves or other charitable causes.
The proposal by Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, was approved by the Senate 24-6, meeting the two-thirds support level required for final passage of a proposed constitutional amendment. If the House also approves the measure, it will go on the 2014 general election ballot for final approval by voters.
When the state constitution was amended in 2002 to allow lotteries, a provision was included to allow some charitable groups to hold gaming events for fundraising, if each event is approved by the Legislature. Crowe said veterans groups should have the same rights of fundraising as other organizations now covered.
A news release on the proposed amendment is below.

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