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Tennessee historic sports betting law goes into effect Nov. 1

The law passed in 2019 but was delayed due to COVID-19. It will make Tennessee the first state in the U.S. with sports betting exclusively online.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is weeks away from making history in the betting game.

"We're talking about Tennessee is the first state in the nation to do online interactive and mobile-only," said Rep. Rick Staples (D) District 15.

Staples pushed for the legislation back in 2019 and the bill received bipartisan support, but it also experienced delays due to COVID-19. On Nov. 1st it will not be delayed anymore, and betting expert Allan Bell said the effects will be huge.

"It's massive, we're seeing across the country state by state that this legislation is going through because of the revenue possibilities. This is a $4 billion business and states are realizing, 'Hey we can get in on this.'"

Sports betting is something people are already doing. When it becomes legal, 20% of the revenue from betting will go directly back to the state.

"Majority of those dollars will go toward education and institutions of higher learning to help our young people to grow and educate," Rep. Staples said.

Those funds will also be distributed in other ways, such as in infrastructure and mental health initiatives across the state. Knoxville will get a significant amount of that money.

"Knox County and Knoxville, they should roughly get about $1.3 million a year," Rep. Staples said.

Bell makes clear there will be a learning curve. In other words, he said there will be a few bad bets.

"There is going to be an education process for the market because there are going to be so many players that haven't done this before," said Bell.

As Staples prepares to leaves office, he's glad this law is shining a good light on Tennessee.

"I think it's great especially with this social climate that this historical piece of legislation came from an African-American, East Tennessee country boy — making us a first in the nation in a positive way," Rep. Staples said.