Sports Gambling in Tennessee?


Sports Gambling in Tennessee?

Charles ‘Skip’ Armistead


While walking to another committee hearing last Wednesday, I began wondering if today’s culture is so addicted to the money promised by gambling that, like those addicted to gambling, some of us just may not want to see the harm.  It’s important to remember the one thing inherent in gambling:  the majority always loses.  In the long run, it’s the sports gambling companies who will be the winners.  Our state will have to cover the short- and long-term costs, not the gambling industry.


Representative Johnny Shaw may have spoken the greatest wisdom at last week’s hearing when he expressed his concern for the athletes and the new pressures that they could endure if we legalize sports gambling.  If it becomes legal, bookies don’t have to put pressure on the athletes.  The pressure can come from parents, uncles, other relatives who could very well say something as simple such as, “If we are going to win anyway, do what you can to shave these points, so we can win thousands of dollars. Drop a pass. Miss a block. Hit the batter. Make a foul.” Yes, this is illegal, but legalizing gambling increases the “odds” of this happening.  


Mike Hamrick, Athletic Director at Marshall University, used to be Athletic Director at UNLV (University of Nevada-Las Vegas).  On a 60 Minutes segment about sports gambling on March 24th, Mike told of attending his first home basketball game at UNLV. While winning very easily, one of the UNLV players missed a simple layup towards the end of the game.  The fans then angrily booed the player.  His wife told Mike that this was going to be a very hard place to work, if the fans were so upset that UNLV did not win by a bigger score.  The person sitting next to them said that the fans were upset because his missing the layup meant that UNLV wouldn’t have the point spread which would give a big prize for those who bet on the game.  He immediately saw the inherent pressures of sports gambling on his athletes.


People keep saying, “They are going to gamble anyway.”  Experience shows that is simply not true.  Even in states that did not have gambling at one time (even when surrounded by states with legalized gambling), the majority did not gamble until it became legal.  


People keep contending that we are going to get the money from illegal gamblers once we legalize gambling.  Experience shows that is simply not the case.  Those, who gamble illegally, do not pay taxes on their winnings. They don’t have limits on their wagers.  They can use credit cards and PayPal. The apps have no features that will stop a person from becoming addicted. (No app does)  The illegal gambling apps will simply let them keep on gambling. This experience is world-wide.  We will not get their money.


Finally, if gambling is such a great thing, then why don’t the owners and managers of the gambling empires gamble, no matter the type of gambling?  Here is a list of gambling operators, retailers, and  CEO’s, and the NBA commissioner who are involved in gambling, yet not one of them gamble.  (I found this list on the website.)  These are only 9 of 119 on that list.


Sheldon Adelson - billionaire casino operator who leads Las Vegas Sands

Tony Amico – number one retailer of lottery sales in Massachusetts

Neil Bluhm – billionaire casino operator

Frank Fahrenkopf – former head of the American Gaming Association

Employees at International Gaming Technology (IGT) – the leading producers of slot machines

The three founders of DrafKings, the online sports gambling operators

Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Casinos

Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner and one of the most outspoken voice in favor of sports gambling

Gary Loveman – former CEO at Caesar’s which runs Harrah’s Southern California


Again, if gambling is such a good investment, then why don’t these people gamble?  If it is such a great investment, let’s invest our state revenue, so we can get some big winnings.


Finally, there is great wisdom in not being the first to exclusively use smart phone apps for smart phone gambling.  Because we were one of the last states to adopt a lottery, we learned from so many mistakes made by the other states.  As a result our lottery is considered one of the best in the nation with fewer complications.  Why not wait a few years to see how this plays out, especially since the Department of Justice may change its mind again about the wire act.


Bless you for all of the weighty decisions you make for the benefit of all of us!




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