Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Tennessee?
Right now sports betting is not legal in Tennessee but with a new sports gambling bill already filed in 2019 that could soon change.
With a new sports betting bill already introduced and millions of dollars in tax revenue waiting, signs are pointing to good things happening for sports gamblers in the Volunteer State.
In this guide we’ll take a close look at the past and present of sports betting in Tennessee. We’ll explore the newly proposed sports gambling legislation and its chances for passing a vote and we’ll also take a look at whether it’s legal to bet on daily fantasy sports (DFS) in Tennessee.
Finally, we’ll put all the pieces of the puzzle together to try to predict whether people in Tennessee will be able to bet on sports legally anytime soon.
Tennessee Legal Sports Betting at a Glance
Chances are you’ve heard of the US Supreme Court decision in 2018 that opened the door for states to legalize sports betting. Legalization has already happened in a handful of states but what does it mean for people in Tennessee?
As it turns out, a lot is happening on the legal front in Tennessee.
Bill HB0001, aka the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, was filed by House Representative and Assistant Minority leader Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) and it outlines a plan to legalize sports betting only in areas that approve it via local elections.
It’s a new industry that’s projected to earn the state millions of dollars in the first year and much more down the road.
The state’s gaming history is nonexistent given that it permits very few kinds of gambling. There’s a state lottery, daily fantasy sports is legal to bet on and people in Tennessee can also place bets on the TVG horse race betting app.
Yet despite rigid traditions, the future has never looked brighter for Tennessee when it comes to sports gaming legalization.
The History of Online Sports Betting in Tennessee
Tennessee’s gambling history is sparse. The state has had some of the most uncompromising gambling laws in America and, up until recently, it had been extremely reluctant to budge from its zero tolerance stance.
There are very few gambling options which include the state lottery, which Tennessee introduced in 2003, daily fantasy sports (DFS) which was legalized in 2016 and pari-mutuel betting on horse racing via the TVG betting app.
The lottery, set in place primarily to raise funds for the state’s educational system, has been a massive source of revenue generating $2.6 billion dollars for educational programs alone and over $6 billion in prize earnings.
Having had experience with such a significant source of revenue associated with gambling is definitely going to play a factor in the state’s decisions around legalized sports betting.
The Current Online Sports Betting Situation in Tennessee
Surprisingly enough, even with its prior rigid stances against most forms of gambling, Tennessee is one of a handful of states that are currently moving towards legalized sports betting.
This potential change comes in the wake of a massive shift in America’s federal ruling against sports gambling as a whole.
In 1992 a countrywide law was introduced called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that prohibited sports gambling in every state save for Nevada. In the spring of 2018, thanks to a successful appeal of PASPA by the state of New Jersey, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling and gave each state the autonomy to decide for itself if it wants legal sports gambling.
In November 2018, a new sports betting bill called the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act was introduced and depending on what happens next it could change the state’s sports betting landscape forever.
The bill states that sports betting would be deemed legal in areas where it is approved in local elections. Much like the state lottery, the tax money would go towards educational programs in the state.
Here are the main points from Tennessee’s first legal sports betting bill:
- A 10% tax on all sports gambling revenue.
- 40% of the tax goes to the general fund for general appropriations.
- 30% to Tennessee colleges of applied technologies and community colleges for equipment and capital projects
- 30% to local governments for education and infrastructure.
Rick Staples, the House Representative that filed the bill, predicts that this new industry will generate $2.2 million for the state in the first year, $5 million the year after continue increasing in years to come.
For the first time in a long time, there is serious optimism around sports betting legalization in Tennessee.
Which Online Sports Betting Sites are Legal in Tennessee?
Since sports betting would fall under the state’s definition of gambling, any wagers placed in offshore accounts could be considered illegal in Tennessee.
Legalization is still a ways off but a common route is for state’s to leverage existing infrastructure to develop land-based sportsbooks, followed by online betting options.
Since Tennessee has no legal casinos, the state lottery could be an option for offering legal sports betting.
When and if legalization occurs, our experts will review all the best Tennessee online sportsbooks and betting sites to help you choose which one is right for you.
What Sports Can You Bet on Online in Tennessee?
As of now, there are no sports you can bet on legally online in Tennessee. However, if sports betting does become legalized in the state of Tennessee, it’ll bring with it a whole slate of professional and amateuer sports to wager on.
North American and international sports leagues will be fair game including betting on the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, UFC, EPL and many more.
Tennessee sports fans will be excited to know that college sports will also likely be on the table for betting, giving residents an opportunity to bet on dozens of college sports games each weekend.
We expect Memphis Grizzlies supporters to make a big splash in the sports gambling waters and the recently dominant Nashville Predators, whose fans nearly got to see them raise a Stanley Cup, would certainly garner some betting action.
Is Betting on Fantasy Sports Legal in Tennessee?
It may have come as a bit of a surprise given the state’s historical aversion to most forms of gambling activity but since DFS was deemed an act of skill more than chance at the federal level, Tennessee lawmakers allowed it.
Quite interesting to note, in terms of the legislature's ruling, is that not only was the state’s attorney originally opposed to allowing DFS in the state, he was then overwhelming voted against in the senate by a landslide 27-2 margin in favor of passing the ruling.
This is yet another stepping stone to a potential shift in Tennessee’s current anti-sports gambling landscape.
Is There No Deposit Sports Betting in Tennessee?
Given that online sports betting is still illegal, there are no bonuses whatsoever. However, in the event that online sports betting becomes legal, residents of Tennessee can expect a similar approach to what other states are currently offering.
In states with legal betting like New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island, gamblers get special incentive bonuses when they sign up. These can sometimes include no deposit bonuses or free bets.
If legal sports betting comes to Tennessee we expect a similar system of incentives.
What Is the Future of Online Sports Betting in Tennessee?
Immediately after the repeal of PASPA by the Supreme Court, Tennessee state senator Brian Kelsey had this to say on his twitter account:
“Based on your comments today, I plan to introduce legislation to allow sports betting in TN with the tax proceeds to go to K-12 education. It appears this will not require a constitutional amendment, but the legislative attorneys are still researching it.”
The discussion around legalization is out in the open and we expect 2019 to shed a lot of light on what will happen next.
One thing is clear, the past financial success of the state lottery is going to be a big positive argument in favor of legalizing sports gambling.
In other words, the future of sports betting in Tennessee squarely rests on the shoulders of the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act. Given the bill’s recent introduction, Tennessee gamblers will have to wait until sometime in 2019 to see how the bill fares in state government.
Tennessee’s sports betting future may also be influenced by other states that have already passed a sports gaming bill. If other states continue to drive massive tax revenues, Tennessee lawmakers may be inclined to not only pass the bill, but expedite the voting process.
Bright Future for Tennessee Sports Betting
2019 is going to be a big year for fans of gambling and sports in the Volunteer State. Gamblers in Tennessee can feel optimistic about the opportunity to one day legally place wagers on sports.
This page is the place to check for major developments on the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act and other initiatives to make it legal to bet on sports.
For more information on other parts of the US, browse our state guides to legal sports betting in the US.