Until recently, Tennessee online gambling seemed like a remote possibility. That is until Governor Bill Lee returned a landmark sports betting bill without a signature. Under state law, the governor’s failure to sign allowed the bill to become law.
Tennessee has historically been conservative in its stance on legal gambling. For many years, the lottery was the only option available to gambling enthusiasts in The Volunteer State.
Tennessee is unique in that its sports betting legislation authorizes online-only operators to offer sportsbooks in the state. There are no land-based casinos in Tennessee, so the push to allow online sports betting makes sense.
Though no online sports betting operations have launched yet in Tennessee, we could begin to see operators debut in the second half of 2020.
Legal Online Gaming Options In Tennessee
|Type Of Online Gambling||Legal Status In Tennessee|
|Online Casino||Illegal in Tennessee|
|Online Sports Betting||Legal, expected to go live in the second half of 2020|
|Online Horse Race Betting||Permitted on licensed and regulated operator sites|
|Online Lottery||Illegal. All lottery purchases must be made at a licensed retail outlet|
|Daily Fantasy Sports||Legal in Tennessee|
|Sweepstakes Casinos||Available to Tennessee players|
|Sweepstakes Poker Sites||Available to Tennessee players|
Tennessee Online Sports Betting Snapshot
Tennessee is staged to become a pioneer for online sports betting legislation. The state’s online-only approach in the absence of land-based casinos is unique among regulated US jurisdictions. While the regulatory landscape in Tennessee will look different from states like New Jersey or Illinois, the online offering will likely mirror those of other states with digital sportsbooks.
Online sportsbooks grow in popularity by the day because they are accessible and fast. If you want to bet on a specific game, you don’t have to coordinate travel to a land-based property in time to place your wager before or during the game.
Players love online sportsbooks because they allow 24/7 access to sports betting. Whether you’re a fan of international soccer leagues or local football teams, you can place bets on your phone while mobile.
Tennessee bettors will no doubt find this positive. The Volunteer State has an NFL, NHL, and NBA team, plus a big NCAA sports fanbase. In other words, Tennessee is a prime market for online sports betting with a wide array of sports fans across the state.
Check out our Guide To Online Sports Betting In Tennessee.
Rules & Regulations
Tennessee already placed certain regulations on sports betting for when it eventually launches in the state. Bettors must be within state lines, which will be verified by geolocation technology. Also, players need to be at least 21 years of age.
Some further rules for Tennessee online gambling will bar certain people from participating in sports betting to lower the risk of corruption. The following groups will be unable to bet on sports in Tennessee:
- Professional/college athletes and coaches
- An employee of the Tennessee Lottery (who oversees sports betting in the state)
- Anyone who can directly impact the outcome of a sporting contest or match
- An employee of any sports team or league’s governing body
- Board members, owners, partners, and officers of a license-provider, license holder, or professional sports team.
The state has a few other stipulations surrounding college betting. No prop bets on in-play wagers will be available on college matches. Tennessee bettors will have to stick to professional sports for those wagers.
Likely Sports Betting Operators
If you look at various US states you’ll notice the same names pop up as sports betting operators. It takes a lot of technical skills and knowledge to run a sportsbook, especially online. Licensing can be expensive and arduous as well.
For those reasons, Tennessee will likely see online sportsbooks from names familiar to sports bettors in other states. Some also offer Daily Fantasy Sports, adding to the name recognition some players may look for when choosing a sportsbook. Here are a few operators we expect to join the fray when Tennessee sports betting goes live:
- William Hill
There will undoubtedly be others, but the operators above have shown speed-to-market in other states and could be some of the first to launch in Tennessee.
Tennessee Online Gambling Status
Tennessee historically offered very little in terms of online gambling. However, with the rapid growth of sports betting across the US and the continuing adoption of other online gaming forms in various states, new options are opening up to Tennessee online gamblers.
Here’s an overview of other legal online gambling options in Tennessee beyond sports betting. Also included are those that are not yet legal but could come to the state in the future.
Daily Fantasy Sports
In 2016, Tennessee became the third US state (after Virginia and Indiana) to officially authorize Daily Fantasy Sports. DFS enjoys a solid presence in The Volunteer State. Currently, there are six operators licensed to run DFS contests in Tennessee:
- SportsHub Technologies, Inc.
- Two Nine Gaming, Inc.
Daily Fantasy Sports is available to anyone over the age of 18 in Tennessee. DFS players on sites like FanDuel and DraftKings will likely see those companies also offer sports betting once the state launches.
Online Horse Race Betting
Tennessee state law neither prohibits nor allows online horse race betting directly. In fact, the state has gone back and forth, legislatively speaking, on whether to allow race tracks and accompanying wagers in the state. The advent of sports betting could spurn more legal action. As of now, though, horse racing in Tennesee remains in limbo.
However, a number of operators offer online options to Tennessee bettors looking to wager on races around the world.
Tennessee hosts no race tracks within its borders, so many horse racing enthusiasts turn to the online space.
Sites like TVG, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica are the most popular online horse race betting destinations. All three (and a few others) can be found in Tennessee. These sites support races from all over the US and beyond, so even though Tennessee is devoid of race tracks, racing fans can still enjoy placing wagers.
See our comprehensive Guide To Online Horse Racing In Tennessee.
Sweepstakes Casino Sites
These sites offer a variety of online casino games like slots, blackjack, and roulette. Players purchase in-game currency (which costs real money) called “coins” or similar. Those coins can be used to play the casino games, but cannot be redeemed for cash. The sweepstakes model comes in with “sweeps coins” or “sweeps cash.” Whenever you purchase in-game currency, you’re given a small allotment of sweeps currency, which can be redeemed for cash prizes.
Sweepstakes sites offer a mail-in option, which allows players to receive free sweeps cash via mail-in request. This is what allows sweepstakes casinos like Chumba Casino or LuckyLand to operate legally, even in states with strict online gambling prohibitions.
These sites can be a fun alternative to real-money casino gaming especially in states like Tennessee that bar online casinos. But you should use them with caution in The Volunteer State due to vague legislation.
Sweepstakes poker sites use the same model as their sweepstakes casino counterparts. In fact, the same company that runs Chumba Casino also owns Global Poker, the most popular sweepstakes poker site.
The idea is the same: players can purchase coins to use in poker games, and each purchase also gives the player a small amount of sweeps cash. Mail-in offers allow players to redeem free sweeps cash.
Like similar casino sites, sweepstakes poker can be an excellent alternative to full-fledged online poker rooms. Exercise caution, though, because Tennessee’s laws generally prohibit gambling, and these sites use loopholes to work around that legislation.
Online Casino And Poker In Tennessee
Online casinos are illegal in Tennessee alongside online poker.
The two often go hand-in-hand when legislation is drafted. But currently, Tennessee shows no signs of intent to legalize either online poker rooms or casinos. The state remains opposed to online gambling in these forms.
Notably, online sports betting can often pave the way for new regulations surrounding online casino and poker rooms. If Tennessee is successful in its online-only sports betting push, lawmakers could become more amenable to other forms of online gaming.
Tennessee has strict rules in place with regard to lottery sales. Players cannot purchase tickets online.
Instead, lottery players in Tennessee are required to purchase tickets and draw games at a licensed retailer. Further, you can only purchase lottery tickets with cash. No debit or credit purchases are permitted.
The Tennessee Lottery does have a mobile app, though it is purely informational. It can help you find a licensed retailer. But you’ll have to actually make an in-person visit to purchase any lottery products.
The state and its legislators have given no indication that online lottery sales are a prospect for the future.
Tennessee Online Sports Betting Bonus Guide
Despite the fact that no online sportsbooks have launched in Tennessee just yet, players will want to keep an eye out for sign-up bonuses and special offers once operators go live. Once you’re finally able to hop into a sportsbook via a mobile app or website, here are some of the offers you’ll see from sports betting providers.
Many sportsbooks offer this sign-up incentive. It’s very simple: once you sign up, create your account, and make an initial deposit, the operator will match that deposit up to a certain amount. Usually, the threshold is between $100 and $500, but this varies by provider.
So, if you sign up with a site that offers a $250 deposit match and make an initial deposit of that amount, you’ll start off with $500 dollars total.
Always double-check the fine print as it relates to these offers, though. Some operators require you to make your initial deposit within a certain time window in order to collect the bonus. Others may even offer matches on your first two deposits instead of just one. Compare operators and offers to find the best option.
Risk-Free First Bet
Risk-free bets kickstart your sports betting with an added safety net. This type of offer usually ranges from $50 to $200, but some operators offer higher amounts.
Essentially, you place your first bet within the limit set by the operator. If that bet loses, they’ll credit your account with the amount you lost so you can try again with another bet.
These offers are great tools to help you learn how to bet without worrying too much about taking a loss on your first bet. Of course, once that first bet is complete, the risk-free offer no longer applies.
Sign-Up Bonus (No Deposit)
This bonus can typically be found in online casinos where they’re legal, but some sportsbooks offer it as well.
Essentially, the sportsbook will give you a small amount of free credit when you sign up. The amount is smaller compared to other bonuses, often in the $10 to $30 range, though sometimes they can be a bit higher.
The added benefit here is that you don’t need to deposit any money to collect the bonus. It’s a great way to get started with sports betting before you need to fund your account.
Loyalty And Rewards Programs
Online sportsbooks will almost always have some sort of loyalty program that offers extra incentives for frequent players.
You can usually sign up for free, so the value you get is high, especially if you participate in sports betting on a regular basis.
Rewards vary, but typically you’ll see offers such as a credit to your account after you spend a certain amount. For example, some operators may give you $100 after you spend a total of $2,000.
These programs are great for players and can incentivize you to stick with one operator for the long term. Just remember to always play responsibly.
Tennessee’s Online Gambling History
Online gambling in The Volunteer State has a short history that has grown busier in recent years. Tennessee’s story begins at the federal level, then picks up in 2016 and beyond with significant developments.
Online Gaming On A Federal Level
To put it mildly, the US federal government has been wishy-washy in terms of online gambling legislation. Under the Federal Wire Act of 1961, the government prohibited all forms of online gaming.
2011 brought hope for a reversal of that stance when the US Department of Justice indicated that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting. That declaration wasn’t the end of it.
In the years following, various administrations and organizations reversed and re-reversed the decision so many times, it’s become a bit of a mess to track. In 2018, the Justice Department under the Trump administration retracted the 2011 opinion, and the Wire Act went back to covering all forms of online gambling.
After, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Justice Department are caught in a tug-of-war regarding The Wire Act, and nobody is quite sure which side will come out on top. Bottom line: the federal stance on online gaming is confusing, and it’s likely to stay that way as the government fights internally over what The Wire Act covers.
This back-and-forth has little impact on Tennessee, however, because the state still bars online gaming in its own laws. Any legitimate federal reversal would need to be followed by state-specific laws before online gaming could reasonably become a reality in Tennessee.
Tennessee’s Sports Betting Push
Tennessee gave its first indication that it would welcome sports betting in 2016 when it became the third state to officially authorize Daily Fantasy Sports. DFS legalization isn’t always a harbinger of regulated online sports betting, but a combination of federal shifts and Tennessee laws made that the case for The Volunteer State.
In 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. This left the decision to legalize sports betting to individual states. Many, including Tennessee, have already acted to regulate and launch online sportsbooks.
In 2019, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee allowed the state’s sports betting bill to become law without his signature. The Tennessee Lottery will oversee sports betting under the bill, and the state could see online sportsbooks as soon as July 2020, though many will arrive later.
For now, Tennessee seems laser-focused on sports betting. State lawmakers have given no indication that they intend to legalize other forms of online gambling like casinos or poker rooms.
Live Gambling In Tennessee
Tennessee is a bit of an oddball compared to other states with a gambling presence. With no land-based casinos, sportsbooks, or race tracks, the state has embraced online sports betting without any brick-and-mortar properties.
Rather than move to build properties or allow casino/race track operators to expand into the state, Tennessee effectively jumped ahead by regulating online sportsbooks. This could mean great variety for players because online operators won’t need to spend time negotiating partnerships with land-based casino owners before they can launch.
Tennessee Gambling Quick Facts
|Is lottery legal in Tennessee?||Yes, but you cannot purchase tickets online. Retail-only|
|Does Tennessee have racetracks?||No|
|Does Tennessee have casinos?||No|
|What is Tennesee’s minimum gambling age?||21 (18 for lottery and Daily Fantasy Sports)|
|Who regulates gambling?||The Tennessee Lottery|
|How can I gamble in Tennessee?||Lottery tickets, Daily Fantasy Sports, online horse race betting, sweepstakes casinos/poker sites. Later this year, online sportsbooks|
Casino Options For Tennessee Gamblers
Tennessee’s conservative stance on gambling looks like it will hold for the foreseeable future, at least in relation to land-based gaming. Even if the state chose to allow gambling, it would be years before a casino could be licensed, built, and opened within state lines.
Tennessee may have no land-based casinos, but fortunately, a number of neighboring states have properties that are easily accessible to Tennessee residents willing to travel a short distance. Here’s a rundown of land-based casinos close to Tennessee:
|Sam’s Town Casino Resort||Tunica||MS|
|Gold Strike Casino Resort||Tunica||MS|
|Fitz Casino Hotel||Tunica||MS|
|Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort||Cherokee||NC|
|Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel||Murphy||NC|
|Kentucky Downs Racetrack||Franklin||KY|
Tennessee Lottery Overview
The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation runs the Tennessee Lottery. Players can enjoy a variety of instant tickets and draw games for a chance at big prizes.
Tennessee’s lottery games can only be purchased in-person at a licensed and authorized retailer. For more information on any of the games below, you can head to the Tennessee lottery games page.
The Tennessee lottery offers a large portfolio of lottery instant games. They range in price from $1 to $30, and many feature prizes up to $1 million.
Tennessee Powerball And Mega Millions
These games draw twice weekly, and winners get a piece of a huge jackpot, usually exceeding $100 million.
This twice-weekly draw game has a prize that regularly reaches more than a few million dollars.
Cash 4 Life
There’s a winner every night in this game. The top prize? $1,000 a day for life.
Win hundreds of thousands of dollars in this game that draws on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Keno To Go
Keno To Go has a drawing every five minutes with a top prize of $100,000. The game is a bit more complex than other draw games, so take a look at the how to play page before you get started.
Cash 3 And Cash 4
Cash 3 and Cash 4 feature top prizes of $500 and $5,000, respectively. They offer morning and evening drawings almost every day of the week for maximum chances to win.
Horse Racing In Tennessee
Though it has no race tracks within state borders, Tennessee racing enthusiasts can still wager on horse races.
For those willing to travel, the Kentucky Downs race track in Franklin, Kentucky, is the nearest physical race track. Otherwise, online betting is available via TVG, TwinSpires, BetAmerica, and other providers.
There have been some attempts to revive the racing industry in Tennessee, but progress is stalled. As of now, there’s no clear-cut answer as to whether Tennessee will bring physical horse races to the state any time soon.
More Information On Tennessee Gambling
- Tennessee Lottery Homepage
- Tennessee Secretary of State Fantasy Sports Hub
- Daily News Tennessee Sports Betting Overview
- Tennessee Lottery’s Useful Sports Betting Documents
- FindLaw’s Tennessee Gambling Overview
Tennessee Gambling FAQ
Is it legal to gamble at land-based casinos in Tennessee?
No. Fortunately, it’s impossible to break this law because there are no casinos or even race tracks in Tennessee. The state does not allow any brick-and-mortar gambling institutions.
Tennessee gambling enthusiasts will need to travel to a nearby state like Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Mississippi, or North Carolina to find a land-based casino.
Does Tennessee have legal online sports betting?
Yes. However, no operators are live in the state yet.
Tennessee is unique in that it will allow online sports betting operators to launch in the state without being tethered to a land-based casino. Sportsbooks will be online- and mobile-only. This will likely give Tennessee players a few more options than bettors in states that require online operators to partner with land-based properties.
Can only Tennessee residents play at its online sportsbooks?
You will not need to be a Tennessee resident to participate in sports betting in the state.
Anyone within state lines (verified by geolocation technology) and over the age of 21 will be able to place a wager. When you sign up for an account, you will confirm your identity and your age with your social security number.
Who regulates online gambling in Tennessee?
The Tennessee Lottery. As the only formal gambling oversight organization in the state, it will manage and regulate Tennessee’s online sports betting presence.
What is Tennessee’s minimum gambling age?
Anyone over the age of 21 and within state lines will be able to place a wager at an online sportsbook in Tennessee.
Anyone over 18 can play Tennessee Lottery games or participate in Daily Fantasy Sports contests.
Can I play at online casinos in Tennessee?
No. Tennessee gambling law is very broad and prohibits casino gaming across the board. This includes online casinos.
Players may find an alternative site like Chumba or LuckyLand casino. These sites operate as sweepstakes and can offer casino games online because of the model they use.
Who will operate Tennessee sports betting sites?
There will likely be a large number of providers. Expect big-name operators like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, William Hill, and many more to launch online sportsbooks in Tennessee.
Because there’s no requirement to partner with land-based casinos, smaller sportsbooks may pop up in the state as well.
Will my information be safe if I bet on sports online in Tennessee?
Yes. Online sportsbooks care about their customers and offer high-level encryption on par with practices used by banks and online shopping retailers.
Online sportsbooks are also regulated by The Tennessee Lottery, which will put rules in place to keep your information safe and secure with any operator who offers sports betting.
Can I bet using my phone?
Once online sports betting launches in Tennessee, yes. You will have access to iOS and Android apps.
Apple prohibits gambling apps unless they’re developed in its native programming language. Most major providers do this so they can offer their app in the iOS app store. Google Play does not allow gambling apps, but players can download the Android app directly from operator websites.
Should I sign up with more than one Tennessee sports betting site?
This depends on your preferences. If you sing up for multiple sites, you can take advantage of each provider’s sign-up bonuses and net a few extra dollars you can use to bet.
Stick with one operator, though, and you’ll get more accustomed to how things work. If you join their loyalty program, you have an incentive to keep your betting on their site and could stand to gain more rewards from frequent use of a single site.