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Tennessee daily fantasy sports games are legal, an unexpected development for a state typically against all forms of gaming. It was shockingly among the first states to officially legalize the games. Top DFS providers operate in a legal gray area in many states. Not Tennessee, which oversees and regulates the games.
While players await sports betting, there are plenty of options to play their favorite real-money DFS games.
Tennessee sports betting is legal, though players can’t place a wager quite yet. State officials are finalizing regulations aiming for bets to be placed before the end of 2019.
Bettors in Tennessee will have a lot to look forward to. The state will launch the first online-only sports betting market. Early online adopters such as New Jersey already see more than 80 percent of their bets placed over the internet, so Tennessee likely won’t miss much without brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
Vendor applicants, sports betting promotions and many other questions remain undetermined, so follow Gambling.com for all the latest developments.
Once licensed, online sportsbooks from third-party vendors will be accessible to eligible Tennessee residents and visitors from anywhere within state lines. There is technically no limit to the number of possible sites, or “skins,” that can enter the market, setting bettors up for a wide array of the nation’s top betting purveyors. If other states with online sports betting are any indicator, bettors can expect a dozen or more skins to enter the market within the first few years after Tennessee takes its first sports bet.
The wait may disappoint Tennessee sports bettors, but the fact the Volunteer State is even close to taking legal wagers is fairly incredible.
Tennessee has no casinos, no race tracks and no noteworthy gambling entities of any kind, with the state education lottery as the sole exemption. Even the government-run lottery, operational in 44 other states, was controversial and only passed last decade, more than 50 years after New Hampshire launched the first modern lottery.
Conservative political, religious and cultural traditions continue to influence Tennessee’s government, which made sports betting a long shot to pass the legislature, let alone a bill that permitted legal sports wagering from anywhere in the state. Only a handful of the more-than two-dozen states to introduce sports betting bills since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on wagering in 2018 were able to pass them into law.
But Tennessee shocked the industry by advancing the bill all the way to the governor’s desk. Advocates persuaded a skeptical legislature by arguing online betting was already ubiquitous thanks to illegal bookmakers or offshore sportsbooks. By legalizing sports betting, supporters argued in the legislature, the state could instead help regulate the market, protect consumers and generate tax revenues.
Lawmakers ultimately supported that view, and an unusual quirk in Tennessee law effectively prevented gambling-averse Gov. Bill Lee from vetoing the measure. It passed into law in summer 2019.
With little gambling tradition or traditional infrastructure to launch a new gaming entity, Tennessee will take some time to begin sports betting. Initial vendor applications were released in August 2019, leaving open the possibility for approval by regulators as early as November of the same year.
It won’t be long until residents and visitors will be able to bet on the Tennessee Volunteers, Tennessee Titans or thousands of other college and professional teams across the country.
Tennessee has no online casino gambling, no brick-and-mortar casinos and little hope for either soon.
Sports betting remains a stark exemption in more than a century of staunch gambling opposition. Despite the unlikely support for betting on sports, lawmakers are little closer to any type of casino gambling. Gambling attitudes among Americans continue to evolve, and this may eventually trickle into the legislature, but that could be a generation away from any serious impact.
For now, and for the foreseeable future, Tennessee residents will have to cross state lines to enjoy casino games. In the meantime, real-money online casino games in Tennessee, at least for now, don’t seem like a realistic possibility.
Tennessee online poker is illegal, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering there are no legal card rooms in the state. Again, like most forms of gambling, online and offline poker are not available in Tennessee, and lawmakers seem disinclined to change that.
That doesn’t mean other states aren’t advancing online poker within their borders. West Virginia passed a real-money online poker bill earlier this year, becoming the closest state to Tennessee with legal offerings. Five states have legalized online poker and while Tennessee is not close to joining that list, more jurisdictions near the state line may take up the games in the coming years.
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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, 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. Legal sports betting is poised to be the second-most significant development in Tennessee gambling, but bettors shouldn’t expect any other major developments soon.
Tennessee unexpectedly legalizes sports betting, becoming the first state without any casinos to approve wagering. Tennessee is also the first state to approve an online-only sports betting market.
Daily fantasy sports are legalized in Tennessee, one of the first few states to formally legalize and regulate the games.
Charitable bingo and raffle games are legalized as way to raise funds for severe flood damage. The games include strict wager limits.
Tennessee resident Chris Moneymaker shocks the poker world with his stunning World Series of Poker win, jumpstarting nationwide interest in the game. Several years later, online poker is explicitly outlawed by the federal government, though states are permitted to authorize the games within their own borders. Tennessee has not seriously considered doing so.
Voters approve a state constitutional amendment to permit a government-run lottery, the biggest development in Tennessee gaming in more than a century.
The state codifies a pari-mutuel horse racing ban on top of existing gambling prohibitions. Legal gambling will gain little traction in Tennessee for the next century.
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