Tennessee sportsbooks went live on Nov. 1, 2020, a state that offers bettors an increasing mix of online wagering opportunities, though casino gambling is not among them.
Casino gambling is not legal in Tennessee in any form, so residents must cross state lines to play slots, blackjack or other table games for real money. An online alternative is social casinos, where players are provided virtual coins for signing up and can win prizes through sweepstakes-style games. The games are free and can be played on the social casino’s website or through Facebook apps.
Tennessee allows online gambling for sports, pari-mutuel wagering (though the state has no horse tracks or off-track wagering facilities) and Daily Fantasy Sports.
There is no timetable. Legislation to allow any form of casino gambling in Tennessee is not a priority and seems far into the future. In fact, Gov. Bill Lee, in allowing the sports betting bill to become law, told state lawmakers that he appreciated their efforts to avoid building casinos in the state. Therefore, it'll take some time, if at all, for Tennessee online casinos to go live and start offering promotions similar to NJ online casino bonuses.
That said, Tennessee residents continue to cross state borders in large numbers to support casino gambling in neighboring states. That’s especially true around Memphis, whose residents help support more than half-dozen casinos in Tunica, Miss., (40 miles away) and Southland Park Gaming & Racing in West Memphis, Ark. (7 miles away).
Tennessee has no land-based casinos and does not allow casino gambling or casino games in any form.
If Tennessee were to someday approve online casino gambling, it’s likely that most of the prominent national online operators would be interested, provided tax rates and license fees weren’t onerous. Among the obvious candidates would be successful operators of the state’s online sportsbooks. Companies that are experienced online casino operators include Caesars Entertainment, Bet MGM, BetAmerica, DraftKings and FanDuel.
Any successful online casino operation would include mobile apps, which enable bettors to place wagers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere inside the state. Mobile apps will play a prominent role in Tennessee’s online-only operation, similar to the effect online casino apps in NJ have had.
Mobile casino apps are generally available for both Android and Apple operating systems and can be downloaded for free on the operator’s website or through the App Store.
Online casinos generally offer the same games found in traditional casinos, with additional variations. Among them:
Online slots: Online casinos can replicate the thousands of slot games offered at land-based casinos to fit comfortably on your mobile screen. New slot games add animation and 3D imaging. You would also be able to play free slots.
Online poker: Tennessee does not allow poker rooms. Online poker in other states offers both cash games and tournament play for a variety of stakes and entry fees. Tennessee does have a famous poker alumnus: 2003 World Series of Poker champion Chris Moneymaker.
Online roulette: The online version features identical rules with a digital electronic random number generator replacing the physical wheel.
Online blackjack: The most popular table game at both land-based and online casinos. The latter allows players a variety of blackjack games to choose from (Blackjack Switch, Spanish 21, etc.) with lower minimum bets.
Online Lottery: Under Tennessee law, lottery tickets must be purchased in-person at a participating retailer and only with cash. Online sales are prohibited by the Tennessee lottery.
Live dealer: Live table games dealt by an actual person from a studio and streamed to your computer or mobile device. Live dealer helps create a more social, live casino experience. Availability of live dealer games varies by state with some offering sparse and others more robust options.
Electronic bank transfer: Use of e-checks (electronic version of paper check) or bank transfer, which establishes a digital connection between your bank account and online gambling account. Works for deposits and withdrawals.
Debit cards: Common and convenient method. Debit cards only use the funds available in your bank account, which helps prevent overspending.
Online mobile payment systems: Also known as e-wallets, which store your information and transfer funds at your request. Accounts can be opened with a credit/debit card or through a bank account. Popular e-wallet options include PayPal, Neteller and Skrill.
Tennessee’s sports betting law also allows deposits for “any other method approved by the rule of the board that is initiated with cash.’’ Those could include at some point the virtual prepaid Play+ card, PayNearMe and more.
In states that offer online casino gambling, a wide range of bonuses are offered to sign up new players or retain existing ones. The most common:
No Deposit Bonus: Bonus money that is placed into your account just for signing up. You will likely have to risk that bonus money at least once before redeeming it.
Deposit Match: Make an initial deposit into your account and the casino operator will match that amount up to 100 percent or possibly more. This type of bonus comes with playthrough restrictions, with the bonus money released in increments the more you play. Read the terms and conditions closely.
Loyalty Bonus: May be offered to long-term players who have reached or surpassed specific wagering thresholds.
Free Spins: Generally offered to new players, allowing them free slot spins to try new games and win money.
With the lone exception of sports betting, Tennessee remains one of the most desolate jurisdictions for gambling in America. Even with legal sports wagering, Tennessee is much closer to Utah than Nevada in terms of gambling.
Gaming in nearly all forms has remained taboo since the state’s founding more than 200 years ago. Unlike the original colonies, which used lotteries and other forms of gambling to in part fund the American revolution, Tennessee never had that early bedrock of gambling. Instead, Tennessee was better defined by the conservative movements of the 1800s, traditions that remained into the 21st century.
Even horse racing betting, which had flourished in other states and was used as a revenue lifeline in the Great Depression, failed to gain much support, even when it became a cultural staple in neighboring Kentucky. Unlike much of the rest of the country, Tennessee remained averse to pari-mutuel horse race betting. That antipathy continued against the other major gambling developments, including the casino boom of the late 1900s and the online expansions in the 2000s.
The most significant gaming development in Tennessee history is the state-sanctioned lottery. Not surprisingly, it was one of the very last states to approve one.
State’s first online sports betting sites go live.
Lawmakers narrowly approve bill that allows Tennessee to become the first state with online-only sports betting. Gov. Bill Lee allows bill to become law without his signature.
Gov. Bill Haslam signs bill allowing Tennessee to become third state to regulate Daily Fantasy Sports.
With no horse tracks built, Tennessee legislators repeal the Racing Control Act, though licensed Internet platforms are allowed to continue to offer pari-mutuel wagering.
State lottery is approved in voter referendum. First ticket is sold in January 2004.
State Legislature approves Racing Control Act, which authorizes potential construction of race tracks.
Yes. Online/mobile is the only legal way to bet on sports in Tennessee. The state also allows online pari-mutuel wagering and Daily Fantasy Sports betting.
Bettors must be 21 to wager on sports; 18 for lottery and pari-mutuel wagering.
The state does not offer casino gambling. There is no restriction on who can apply for an online sports betting license, but all applicants must be approved by state regulators.
Online/mobile sports betting, online pari-mutuel wagering, Daily Fantasy Sports, lottery and social casinos.
No. The only requirement is you must be physically located in Tennessee to place a legal wager. Geolocation technology pinpoints your location.
The only legal offers you will see are offers for social casinos, which offer slots and a variety of table games. The games are played with virtual coins for prizes or amusement and not for real money. Any real-money offers are from offshore, unregulated casinos and should be avoided.
Tennessee has no casinos, poker rooms, race tracks, off-track betting facilities or sports betting shops. You can play the lottery at various retailers.
If and when online casino gambling becomes legal, online casino games will be safe at sites that are licensed and regulated by the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, which would be responsible for ensuring games are fair and accounts secure.
According to the IRS, all gambling winnings are taxable at a rate based on your tax bracket. The good news is, Tennessee has no state income tax to impose on gambling winnings.