Tennessee Sports Betting & Online Gambling

Although online gambling is picking up traction in the US, Tennessee remains behind the times. Most forms of online gambling are illegal in the state with the recent exception of sports betting.

Online sports betting is slated to arrive in Tennessee by July 2020. However, online casinos and poker are still beyond the horizon and may not arrive anytime soon.

Currently, Tennessee gamblers’ online options are limited to horse and greyhound race betting, daily fantasy sports (DFS), and social casinos. Perhaps the entrance of online sports betting in Tennessee (slated for summer 2020) will change the conversation to be more progressive. Only time will tell.

Is Online Gambling Legal In Tennessee?

Although Tennessee is one of the oldest states in the US, it also has among the strictest gambling laws. This isn’t to say that it’s totally illegal to gamble in Tennessee. It’s just very strict compared to neighboring states, and legal betting is limited to only a few activities.

Tennessee Gambling Laws

The state defines gambling as, “risking anything of value for a profit whose return is to any degree contingent on chance, not including lawful business transactions”. This basically bans most types of betting activities.

As a result, some types of gambling that are legal in other states (such as sweepstakes) are still outlawed in Tennessee. Real money gambling in Tennessee is also considered illegal regardless of whether skill is involved. Only sports betting and horse racing are exceptions.

Horse Betting Laws In Tennessee

Tennessee recently legalized simulcast and online wagering across state borders. It also allow off-track betting (OTB) wagers.

This relatively lax outlook on horserace betting is likely because of the state’s history with the sport. However, horse race betting has not been particularly lucrative for the state as race attendance has been trending downward.

The Tennessee Liquor Control Board approves and distributes all horse race betting licenses in the state.

Raffle And Charity Laws In Tennessee

In Tennessee, charity raffles are exempt from most gambling legislation. A group must be recognized as a non-profit, civil cause, or religious organization in order to qualify for the exemption. Also, 100 percent of proceeds must go to the group.

But the law is still pretty strict. Charitable groups can’t run:

  • bingo games
  • poker tournaments
  • casino night events

Essentially, any type of game aside from a raffle is still illegal. Tennessee law even bans 50/50 raffles that don’t have 100 percent of their proceeds going to the hosting charity.

Tennessee State Lottery Laws

The Tennessee State Lottery was established relatively recently in 2003. Multi-state games like Mega Millions and Powerball can also be played within Tennessee borders.

However, all lottery tickets must be purchased in-person from retail vendors. There are no online options, even just to check the status of your ticket.

Sports Betting Legal Developments In Tennessee

Recent legislation surrounding sports betting has changed the game. In May 2018, the US Supreme Court deemed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional thus allowing states to make their own online gambling laws.

New Jersey led an initial charge in opening the state doors to sports betting, but other states soon followed. In May 2019, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee allowed to sports betting to become legal in the state by not signing bill HB1.

Unlike most other states that have legalized retail sports betting before online sports betting, Tennessee law stipulates that only online sports betting is legal. Retail casinos and sportsbooks remain illegal.

Operators are now free to apply for sports betting licenses in Tennessee. The Tennessee Lottery is overseeing the sports betting industry, likely because it is the only organization with the infrastructure to handle the oversight.

Several sports betting providers have already applied for licenses and been approved. This means that prospective sports bettors could begin placing bets online by July 2020.

The big-name operators that might provide sports betting in Tennessee include:

  • FanDuel
  • DraftKings
  • 888
  • Caesars
  • MGM
  • Bet365
  • BetAmerica
  • William Hill
  • BetStars

Despite this good news, there are a few legal stipulations that make the sports betting situation different in Tennessee in contrast to other states. For one, all regulators will have to pay $750,000 for licensing. An additional 20 percent gross gaming revenue tax will be levied as well. Players will need to be 21-years-old or older to place sports bets (compared to 18-years-old for the lottery).

The Future Of Legal Online Gambling In Tennessee

Tennessee is not likely to take a more progressive stance on gambling anytime soon. Unlike other states, like New York, online gambling is not a topic on the agenda in Tennessee legislatures. The representatives there simply aren’t very interested in legalizing online betting.

Tennessee has a population of fewer than seven million people. So there’s arguably much less revenue to gain from gambling taxes compared to a populous state like New York. All told, it’ll likely be quite some time before Tennessee lawmakers decide to change their opinions about online gambling.

However, it is still possible. It may yet turn out that Tennessee decides to change its mind over the next decade. As states like New York roll out more and more online gambling operations, Tennessee may feel some pressure to follow suit. Only time will tell.

Playing At Legal Online Casinos In Tennessee

As mentioned, Tennessee currently has strict anti-gambling legislation. There aren’t any retail casinos to visit in the state. People who want to play real money casino games will need across state borders in order to get their fix. However, there are some alternatives.

Online Social Casinos

For an activity to be considered “gambling” according to Tennessee law, there must be money (or something of financial value) at stake. Online social casinos bypass this rule entirely, as players compete only for bragging rights. Instead, they’re a great way to socialize with other people while playing some fun games.

Online social casinos are distinct from sweepstakes casinos, which are not allowed in Tennessee. Several states do allow sweepstakes casinos as their laws define gambling in such a way that presents a loophole.

However, Tennessee law forbids any type of giveaway, compensation, or promotion from casinos or similar establishments. This eliminates the sweepstakes betting model, which can involve all three.

Online social casinos don’t offer Sweeps Coins or any other giveaway. Technically, they’re on the right side of Tennessee law, but some legislators would argue that they’re still a gray area. We recommend that you exercise caution when playing social casino games in Tennessee.

Which Online Social Casinos Can Tennessee Residents Enjoy?

These four online social casinos are worth your while:

  • Big Fish Games
  • Double Down Casino
  • Zynga
  • Slotomania

They are all perfectly legal in Tennessee and historically safe to play. Normally, they don’t provide giveaway options or promotions that might get you in trouble with the strict Tennessee laws.

All the options provide a great balance of regular casino games like slot machines and even some virtual table games.

Again, these social casinos don’t provide you with an opportunity to earn money or prizes. They’re just fun to play. They’re also easy to access through Facebook or a dedicated mobile app (available for iOS and Android users).

Legal Online Gambling Options In Tennessee

Despite all the intense legislation mentioned earlier, there are a few legal online gambling options you can enjoy within Tennessee borders.

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) In Tennessee

The Fantasy Sports Act, passed in 2016, legalized daily fantasy sports (DFS) and outlined a plan for licensing operators in Tennessee. Ever since the bill passed, Tennessee residents and visitors have been allowed to engage in DFS betting.

Operators that currently offer DFS in Tennessee include:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • FantasyDraft
  • StarsDraft
  • DraftDay

In daily fantasy sports, players place bets based on the statistics of real professional players in certain sports. Bets can vary dramatically in terms of their form and potential winnings.

For example, players can wager on short-term forecasts (i.e. a professional player’s performance across a single game). Or, they can decide to wager on season-long outcomes (i.e. a particular team winning the World Cup). Live bets that deal with in-game events are also available.

Daily fantasy sports betting usually centers around major sports teams and events such as:

  • Most professional sports (i.e. NFL, NBA, MLB)
  • Some college sports (although it depends on the state in which the betting is taking place and the operator)
  • Some international sports

DraftKings Daily Fantasy Sports In Tennessee

DraftKings is perhaps the best daily fantasy sports provider in Tennessee as well as the United States at-large. This is mostly because of the features and performance of the app (which is available for most smartphones).

New players benefit from incentives like sign-up bonuses. Additionally, because DraftKings is so big, players will appreciate the ease of finding someone with whom to make a bet. The site also accepts a wide range of deposit and withdrawal methods.

 The website itself is easy to operate and includes innovative new features. For example, a “Pools” tab at the top of the screen allows players to take advantage of news betting pools. Player can place moment-to-moment action bets or season-long bets.

DraftKings offers the following daily fantasy sports (among others):

  • NFL
  • NBA
  • NHL
  • MLB
  • PGA
  • MLS
  • NASCAR
  • MMA
  • eSports

FanDuel Daily Fantasy Sports In Tennessee

Another fantastic DFS provider that operates in Tennessee is FanDuel, which is accessible by desktop or mobile app. The operator constantly rolls out innovative features with new game formats and new types of betting. Overall, it’s a great choice if you’ve already experienced some sports betting action and want something a little newer.

FanDuel offers several contests in which players can partake including single-game contests and beginner contests. Guaranteed prize pool tournaments are another draw, especially for those who want to win big. 

FanDuel features the following sports betting options (and more):

  • NFL
  • MLB
  • NBA
  • NHL
  • MLS
  • PGA

Online Sports Betting In Tennessee

Online sports betting, which became legal in Tennessee in May 2019, is similar to daily fantasy sports betting (but with less reliance on statistical analysis). Its legalization has resulted in several gambling organizations moving into the state in preparation for big sports betting operations. These operations are expected to open to the public in July 2020.

Only those 21-years-old or older will be allowed to participate in online sports betting. Additionally, players won’t be able to participate if they are:

  • an employee of the commission
  • employed, a partner of, or are otherwise affiliated with a professional sports team
  • a coach or a player in a collegiate or professional sports team
  • anyone who can affect the outcome of a sporting event directly

Players who do qualify for online sports betting will be allowed to wager on:

  • professional sports
  • motorsports
  • eSports
  • some college sports, although it’s still up in the air whether Tennessee collegiate sports will be offered
  • Olympic events
  • several other international or nationally-sponsored athletic events

Any players who want to participate in Tennessee online sports betting will need to create an account remotely. This will involve handing over personal information to the sportsbook, including their name, age, and physical address. Players will be able to fund their digital wallet through account wiring, debit or credit card transactions, or other forms of online payment.

The good news for future sports bettors in Tennessee is that the state has several local teams for which wagers can be made. Tennessee has professional leagues in the NBA, NFL, and NHL. The state is also putting together a major league soccer team beginning in 2020. Over a dozen minor leagues and several college Division I teams round out the state’s offerings.

Why Is Sports Betting Exempt From Other Gambling Laws In Tennessee?

The distinction comes from the argument that sports betting requires an element of skill as opposed to being totally dependent on chance.

Specifically, sports betting requires that players look at the detailed statistics from professional players of a particular sport or game. Then, they take those statistics and attempt to make a wager based on real information.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t an element of chance. Every professional player is somewhat dependent on luck when it comes to performance, which means every bettor is as well. But the fact that players can make educated wagering decisions based on the prior performance of a player sets sports betting apart from something like a slot game.

This type of distinction does have a bit of internal consistency when you think about it. For instance, the other major type of online gambling allowed in Tennessee – horse and greyhound racing – also has gamblers look at the prior stats of competitors and make decisions based on that information. This means that there is an element of strategy and skill to the activity even if chance still plays a big role.

Horse And Greyhound Racing In Tennessee

Tennessee does not allow for any land-based racing establishments to exist within its borders. However, it does allow for off-track betting (OTB). Bettors can partake in horse or greyhound racing action as long as they participate in races that are fully licensed, managed, and regulated within the US.

In horse and greyhound racing, bettors place wagers on the performance of certain animals, riders, or teams. Bets can be short-term (i.e. the outcome of an individual race) or long-term (i.e. the outcome of the season).

TVG Tennessee

TVG is one of the best horse racing websites in the world. It offers 24/7 betting opportunities thanks to dual channels (the other is called TVG2). It also allows bettors to place wagers at over 150 racetracks, including big-name ones like the Kentucky Derby.

Making an account through TVG only takes a few minutes, and players are only required to provide basic information. The TVG interface can be accessed through iOS applications or through a desktop browser. Android users can still get in on the fun by using the browser interface.

The interface is easy to use and intuitive. TVG provides comprehensive coverage of all your favorite racing events. Players can also benefit from professional analyst advice and several streaming tools. Most interestingly, TVG provides special wagering opportunities that are specific to certain types of tracks or operators.

BetAmerica Tennessee

This is another reliable horse and greyhound race betting site from which Tennessee residents can benefit. It provides free streaming that covers multiple races simultaneously. This allows bettors to place pari-mutuel wagers on greyhound or horse races safely.

BetAmerica is also a great choice for newcomers since it offers $300 as a sign-up bonus when you make an initial deposit. There are more than 1,000 horse and greyhound races every week for Tennessee gamblers to place wagers.

Additional expert advice from analysts and handicap tips for all the races are included with every account. The website and interface are reliable and user-friendly, too. This ensures that every player’s account is secure against tampering and online threats.

What Types Of Bonuses To Expect At Legal Online Betting Sites

Legal online betting site promotions are something of a rarity for Tennessee residents. As we mentioned, social casinos don’t have any promotions or giveaways. Doing so would violate Tennessee gambling laws.

However, some promotions are available at various horse and greyhound racing betting sites like TVG. Sports betting sites are also likely to have promotions.

Below we review the types of bonuses that players may find at legal online betting sites as they become more common in Tennessee.

Sign-Up Bonuses

The first and arguably most common type of promotion is a sign-up bonus. Sign-up bonuses are incentives for new players to join a gambling platform. They’re usually small bundles of cash or digital credit that a player can use to wager upon signing in to the service. These bonuses are a great way to jump into the betting action even without making a deposit.

For instance, you could join the DraftKings sports betting app and receive a small sign-up bonus of $20. You can use that credit immediately to place bets.

Some of the sign-up bonuses do have stipulations. For example, some bonuses only come about after you place a wager. Others might require you to place several wagers. Be sure to read the fine print so you aren’t surprised.

Deposit (Or Matched) Bonuses

A deposit bonus, or matched bonus, is also pretty common for online casinos and online sportsbooks. It is a way that companies incentivize players to make their first deposits.

For example, FanDuel might provide a deposit bonus matched 100 percent up to $300. That means if you put $300 or any amount below that into your account, they’ll provide the same amount of money in credit for a maximum total of $600.

Of course, the fact that the bonus is given in the form of credit prevents you from keeping the money or withdrawing it immediately. As with sign-up bonuses, stipulations often apply. Many organizations require you to place multiple wagers before you get your bonus.

Promotional Bets Or Betting Pools

Some platforms, like DraftKings’ sports betting app, offer promotional bets or special betting pools that players can take advantage of from time to time. These promotions may have special conditions like low-entry rates or bonus payout limits. Others might be for a limited time only.

Legal Online Gambling In Tennessee FAQ

Who regulates Tennessee’s online gambling sites?

The Tennessee Lottery will be in charge of regulating all the online sports betting activities that take place within Tennessee borders. The Tennessee Lottery, founded in 2013, is a relatively new organization compared to other state lottery boards.

How can I make sure my personal information isn’t compromised at online sports betting sites in Tennessee?

The sports betting operators that are coming to Tennessee use apps or online browser sites that are highly secure and designed to protect your personal information. They are well-established and handle hundreds of thousands or millions of customers every week. This means that top-tier Internet security is a priority for each one of these companies.

For instance, when accessing FanDuel’s sports betting platform, you’ll benefit from third-party software blockers. The site will prevent malware and other malicious cyber-attacks from breaking into its database and obtaining your personal information.

They don’t just do this for the integrity of your personal information. Online gambling platforms are subject to licensing requirements and must maintain a neutral and fair place for all their participants. If someone could break into one of the sites or databases, they could easily manipulate payouts.

This being said, if you doubt the security of a betting sites, you can always contact the customer service team. They should be able to deal with a potential security threat or help explain an issue you see in your account.

Furthermore, each legitimate online betting site should have a seal of authority from whatever regulatory organization oversees the gambling activity. For the sports betting sites in Tennessee, this will be the Tennessee Lottery. Check each site to make sure it’s regulated before using.

What do I do if I have a dispute with a gambling organization in Tennessee?

You can go directly to the Tennessee Lottery with your complaint and describe your grievance. For example, if money mysteriously disappears from your account, you can bring this to the regulatory authorities and have them perform an investigation on your behalf.

If a website advertises itself as an online casino in Tennessee, is it licensed?

No. Tennessee does not allow any online casinos whatsoever. It doesn’t matter if the betting format is traditional or sweepstakes. Any self-purported online casino that gives away promotional items is also illegal in Tennessee.

The only online casinos that are legal in Tennessee are social casinos. They give out absolutely nothing and only allow you to play casino games for fun with other adults.

Never trust any online casino that claims to be legitimate in Tennessee unless it is a social casino. It doesn’t matter if it has a seal on the bottom that looks real.

What will my options be for depositing and withdrawing money at online sports betting sites in Tennessee?

The exact deposit and withdrawal methods are currently unknown. However, DraftKings and similar sports betting providers do have some precedent for how they let players deposit money and withdraw winnings.

For deposit, DraftKings accepts any major credit or debit card like Visa or MasterCard. They also allow you to deposit via PayPal. Furthermore, gift cards from major organizations like MasterCard or American Express can be used for deposit only. Other sports betting providers are likely to follow similar rules. 

Withdrawal methods tend to be more limited. DraftKings provides withdrawals to linked bank accounts and PayPal accounts. Typically, withdrawals will take a few business days whereas deposits are almost instantaneous in most cases.

As with most online gambling sites, you’ll need to provide more personal information to withdraw money than to deposit it. Some organizations, like DraftKings, will have you complete a W9 form before you can withdraw any of your winnings. This is for tax purposes so that the organization can properly give out they’re financials at the end of the year.

Is online gambling in Tennessee safe?

Yes. Online gambling in general is pretty safe as long as you use legitimate sites. All the online platforms providing sports betting in Tennessee will be heavily regulated and use anti-malware software. Furthermore, organizations like the Tennessee Lottery will be in place to handle any grievances.