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University of Tennessee has concerns on sports betting bill

Football fans wait for kickoff in the sports betting lounge at the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., where an hour-long line of gamblers waiting to place bets stretched onto the casino floor as kickoff approached on Sunday Sept. 9, 2018, the first full day of NFL football since New Jersey began offering sports betting in June. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee is expressing concerns about legislation to bring sports gambling to the state.

At a House committee bill review meeting Tuesday, university Director of Policy Analysis Josh Warren said there are concerns about college programs that professional teams don’t have.

He said that a fellow student could see a football player walking with a cast in their classroom and potentially make a proposition bet on individual player performance, according to the university’s understanding of the bill.

“These are college students as well,” Warren told the House State Committee in the review session. “So, we just want to be very mindful of the surroundings of a college campus.”

The sponsor, Democratic Rep. Rick Staples of Knoxville, said his proposal to legalize sports gambling for those 21 and older will have an amendment to allow only mobile and interactive wagers, without brick-and-mortar locations for betting. Republican Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville is carrying a Senate version.

Staples said the amendment isn’t worked out yet, but 85 percent of the revenue will go to the lottery fund and 15 percent will go to local governments.

Warren added that unless a gaming commission is established, there should be some other changes to state law.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has said he doesn’t think that expansion of gambling is a good idea, but in general his administration will “try to work with people to make (bills) more aligned with what my views are.”

The bill is slated for a House committee hearing Tuesday.

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