Tennessee Online Sports Betting

To the surprise of many, legislators were successful in pushing Tennessee sports betting forward in 2019. The bill is the first sports betting legislation passed in the U.S. that does not include a retail component. All bets will be placed online.

The decisive bill, HB 1, arrived on Gov. Bill Lee’s desk on May 24th, 2019. Despite a personal belief that gambling expansion wasn’t needed, he recognized its importance to other legislators and allowed it to become a law without his signature.

Tennessee, not known as a gambling-friendly state, is poised to offer sports betting in 2020. November 1 is the current target, though an October launch isn’t out of the question. This page will serve as your all encompassing guide to legal sports betting in Tennessee.

Tennessee Online Sports Betting

Tennessee Online Sportsbooks

While legal sports wagering hasn’t officially launched yet, we’re getting very close in TN. Wagering is scheduled to begin by November 1st, with multiple operators already receiving their sports betting licenses and conditional approval. A shotgun-style start is expected to open the market, with numerous sites opening at once.

There is no limit to the number of mobile sports betting sites that can become licensed in Tennessee. Hopefuls are required to pay a non-refundable $50K application fee, submit a collection of documents, and be ready to fork over the annual $750K licensing fee.

The following sites have confirmed their presence in the state and attained sports betting licenses:

Online SportsbookLaunch Date
BetMGMBy Nov. 1, 2020
DraftKings SportsbookBy Nov. 1, 2020
FanDuel SportsbookBy Nov. 1, 2020
Tennessee Action 24/7TBA

BetMGM

  • Launch Date: By November 1, 2020
  • Tech Partner: ROAR Digital

A titan of online and brick-and-mortar gaming alike, MGM is all systems go for Tennessee. BetMGM, the online extension of the globally recognizable brand, will be available on the first day of betting in TN having already received conditional approval to launch.

In the time since PASPA was overturned, BetMGM has been one of the most active legal sports betting operators in the United States with books already open in numerous states including New Jersey, Indiana, and Colorado. A clean website, easy to use mobile app, great promotional offers, and quality pricing await TN users.

BetMGM is the primary iGaming brand for ROAR Digital, which is a hybrid venture of GVC Holdings and MGM Resorts. The site benefits from the experience and strong financial backing of both established companies.

DraftKings Sportsbook

  • Launch Date: By November 1, 2020
  • Tech Partner: Kambi

DraftKings Sportsbook is ready to open another iGaming market. The company has attained its sports betting license and conditional approval to offer sports betting in the state of Tennessee, and will be present on Day 1 of legal wagering. Action is expected to begin no later than November 1st.

The popular DFS site turned sportsbook and casino is primed for success in the Volunteer state. As the nation’s first online-only betting market, DraftKings won’t have to contend with brick-and-mortar opponents – and can capitalize on its already impressive name recognition.

The site is already available in virtually every legal market in the United States, and will bring TN bettors access to excellent promotions, prices, and a leading mobile betting product.

FanDuel Sportsbook

  • Launch Date: By November 1, 2020
  • Tech Partner: IGT

Like its DFS brethren, FanDuel is also rearing to go with online sports wagering in Tennessee. The site possess a legal sports betting license, and was conditionally approved by the Tennessee Education Lottery board of directors on September 23rd. FanDuel will co-open the state’s sports betting market by November 1, 2020, accepting bets on all major sports leagues.

FanDuel is a part of Flutter Entertainment, one of the world’s largest gaming entities, and has used that backing to cement itself as a top sports betting operator throughout the U.S. The site offers a healthy lineup of promotions, including free bets and odds boosts that set it apart from the competition.

Tennessee Action 24/7

  • Launch Date: TBA
  • Tech Partner: Amelco/Sportradar

Tennessee Action 24/7 has tossed its hat in the ring as a surprise addition to the opening heat of TN sports betting. No conditional license has been granted, yet, but it could happen soon.

Owned and operated by native Tennesseans, the site will look to become a local favorite. Action 24/7 plans to offer mobile sports betting through its own self-powered app.

TN Online Sportsbooks On The Way

As mentioned, there is no cap on the number of sports betting sites in Tennessee. While the sites above have already confirmed their activity in the state, they certainly won’t be the last. While there is still a lot of speculation at this point, expect to see many of the following offer mobile sportsbooks in TN:

There will surely be some surprises along the way. Watch this space for updates once more information becomes available.

The Basics of Sports Betting in TN

Age

It’s pretty straight forward, you have to be at least 21 years old to wager on sports in Tennessee. No exceptions. 

Location

In order to participate in TN sports betting, well, you have to be located in Tennessee. Bettors using web browsers will be required to install a geo-tracking plugin to prove their location. Phones and other mobile devices are a little easier as they come with built-in GPS chips that can tick this box. 

It is worth noting that you don’t have to actually live in Tennessee to bet on sports in the state, you just need to be physically present within its borders.

Restrictions

Tennessee added a few specific restrictions to its sports wagering bill. If you fall into any of the following categories, Tennessee online sportsbooks can’t accept your action:

  • Tennessee Gaming Commission employees
  • Owners, partners, board members, directors, officers, or supervisory employees of vendors/licensees and professional sports teams
  • Coaches and players on college or professional sports teams
  • Employees of any governing body of a sports team, league, or association

Essentially, anyone that has the ability to potentially affect the outcome of a sporting event is barred from betting. Offenders will be penalized with misdemeanors. Class C, B, and A for first, second, and third offenses.

Registration

Tennessee law requires licensed operators to use systems that will allow them to do all of the following:

  • Verify the bettors name and age
  • Verify that the bettor isn’t on a list of restricted persons
  • Obtain personal info including:
    • Physical address
    • Phone number
    • Unique username
    • Active Email account

The last 4 digits of your Social Security Number will be required as well, for both taxes and as a confirmation of identity. This isn’t just a Tennessee requirement, it is mandatory throughout the U.S.

You’ll only be allowed to have one account on each licensed sports betting site. In-person registration at kiosks around the state was initially proposed, but thankfully removed from the bill before it became a law.

Deposits & Withdrawals

Deposit and withdrawal methods will vary depending on the legal sports betting site. Generally speaking, the more variety, the better. The current law specifically references:

  • Electronic bank transfer, including those through third parties
  • Debit Cards
  • Online mobile payment systems that support online money transfers
  • Any other method approved by the rule of the board that is initiated with cash.

Most U.S. states with online sports betting rely on the following:

  • Online Bank Transfers
  • eCheck/ACH
  • Debit Cards (usually Visa/MasterCard)
  • PayPal

Other states also typically allow bettors to deposit, and cash out in person at the casino cage that partners with its online sportsbook. Unfortunately, since the Tennessee bill only covers online betting and there are no casinos in the state to partner with, this won’t be possible. In its absence it is likely sites will provide access to  numerous, easy, and safe mobile deposit/withdrawal options.

Tennessee Land-based Books

Long story short: There aren’t any, and there won’t be any without further legislation. All betting in Tennessee will be done over the internet. The Tennessee Gaming Act was the first of its kind, permitting online-only wagers and excluding retail sportsbooks. The lack of brick-and-mortar options aren’t expected to impede the popularity of sports wagering though. States like New Jersey, which supports both online and land-based sportsbooks, currently accepts more than 80% of its bets online.

The Rules

In November 2019 the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation released a draft of potential rules and regulations for betting in Tennessee, and then opened them up to a period of public comment. They listened to feedback until early 2020, and then the Lottery and a nine member advisory board took time to iron out the final details. A number of controversial terms had been proposed, including a disastrous 15% hold which would have served as a serious setback to Tennessee’s sports betting industry. After protest and review, the final terms are better, but still not the best.

In April 2020 the state released its official rules and regulations for sports betting.

10% Hold

Tennessee’s sports betting market will open with a 10% hold. While better than 15%, the final 10% number is still far from ideal. The term ‘Hold’ refers to the amount that a sportsbook keeps after paying out a winning bet. A 10% hold will cap payouts for bettors at just 90%.

With the 10% hold, operators in Tennessee won’t be able to offer the best prices. It makes wagering in other states, offshore, or with illegal local bookies a little more appealing. For comparison, other U.S. markets average around 7.5%, while in Nevada the hold is typically just 5%.

Thankfully, the advisory board indicated that the 10% number could be revisited in a years time. Bettors in Tennessee should keep their fingers crossed that it is, and that common sense eventually prevails.

No College Props

Betting on college sports is allowed in Tennessee. However, you can’t bet on individual college props. So you won’t be able to bet on the Vols QB throwing for more than 250 yards, or a Vandy big man grabbing more than 7 rebounds in a basketball game, etc.

TN Sports Betting Legislative Landscape

Discussions about legal sports betting in the Volunteer state began in 2018, but really started picking up steam in early 2019.

Here is a brief snapshot of Tennessee’s legislative landscape as it pertains to sports wagering:

  • PASPA is deemed unconstitutional in May, 2018 by the United States Supreme Court, opening the door for states to begin regulating sports betting.
  • In November 2018, Knoxville Democrat State Rep. Rick Staples pre-filed HB0001, calling it the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act.
  • On Tuesday, April 9th, 2019, the Tennessee House State Committee voted 12-5 in favor of advancing the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act to the Government Operations Committee for review.
  • After it cleared the Government Operations Committee, the bill advanced to the House for a vote. On Wednesday, April 24, Tennessee lawmakers voted 58-37 to approve the sports betting bill, which advanced it to the Senate for consideration. The bill received a 19-12 vote in the Senate.
  • On May 24, 2019, Gov. Bill Lee allowed the bill to become law without his signature.

PASPA

Sports betting has exploded in the United States ever since PASPA, a 30 year old law that essentially outlawed sports betting in all but a few states, was deemed unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. New Jersey led the way opening its doors to sports betting almost immediately after the May 2018 decision. Since then, many more states including West VirginiaDelaware and Pennsylvania have all started taking bets.

Tennessee Sports Gaming Act

  • The state lottery will regulate sports betting
  • Legalizes online-only sports betting in TN
    • It does not include retail sportsbooks
  • Sports betting will have a tax rate of 20%
  • Annual license fees will cost $750,000
    • Money would go towards the state’s general fund
    • Aide for problem gamblers will receive one percent
  • College and pro sports will be available on betting sheets
  • Online sportsbooks must purchase and use official league data
    • Official league data is essentially a way for sports leagues to get their cut of the action

Tennessee Sports Betting Outlook

In a historic move, Tennessee was the first state to pass a “mobile-only” sports betting bill. After Tennessee’s sports betting rules were officially finalized in April, online sportsbooks will be available by November 1st. Stay tuned – the finish line is close!

History of Tennessee Sports Betting

There really is not much to say about gambling in the Volunteer State. For most of Tennessee’s history they have managed to keep legal gambling outside of its borders. There are only three forms of gambling allowed, and compared to other states that already have or are looking into sports betting, these options are relatively tame.

The state lottery was approved by voters in 2002 and lottery games began in 2004. Revenue from the lottery never really took off like the legislators hoped it would, and the states top games rarely exceed $1 million. There are six different draw games to choose from and hundreds of scratch cards that can be purchased from retail shops and kiosks spread throughout the state.

Gambling in TN

The closest we get to actual gambling in TN are the several horse racing venues throughout the state. The popularity of the race tracks has steadily declined since the early 1990s and revenue has never broken $10 million. The state recently approved interstate simulcast racing and off-track betting.

There are also some charitable gambling options in Tennessee. Charity raffles and raffle-style games are legal as long as the money goes to a state approved charity such as political, religious, or civil causes. The laws are very strict and do not allow other forms of gaming such as bingo, poker or even casino nights for charity. Even the raffles are restricted; 50/50 raffles are expressly banned and with any raffle that is held, the funds must go 100% to the charitable organization.

Most states have an exemption for games of skill, but this is not true in Tennessee. They define gambling in the criminal code as:

“Wagering anything of value for profit whose return is to any degree contingent on chance, or on any game of chance associated with casinos, not limited to slot machines, roulette wheels, and the like.”

All gambling devices are prohibited in TN. For example, a card shuffler could warrant a $50 fine.

The fact that a gambling-averse state like Tennessee, with a Governor who was opposed to gaming expansion, was able to get a bill across the line shows a need for revenue. The Tennessee Sports Gaming act was a massive breakthrough.

Tennessee Sports Betting FAQs

Is sports betting legal in Tennessee?

Yes! Effective July 1, 2019, Tennessee has officially legalized sports betting. Gov. Bill Lee allowed the bill that legalized betting in Tennessee to become a law without his signature. Market launch is approaching quickly. Credit to Rep. Rick Staples for sponsoring the bill.

Where will I be able to place a sports bet in Tennessee when it goes live?

You can bet online with any licensed online sportsbook, from anywhere in the state of Tennessee.

Unfortunately there are no retail sportsbooks, nor will there be any. Tennessee legalized online-only sports betting.

What sports can I bet on?

All professional and collegiate sports will be present on Tennessee sports betting sheets. From the Super Bowl to March Madness – they’ll have it all.

When will TN sports betting go live?

Tennessee’s sports betting rules were finalized in April 2020. Both Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Education Lottery have given the go ahead.

The industry is expected to take off by November 1, 2020 (though it could be sooner!). We’ll update accordingly as more information is made available. Legalized sports betting in Tennessee isn’t far away!

What is the legal age to engage in Tennessee sports betting?

Those 21 years or older can bet on sports in Tennessee.

What types of bets will I be able to make?

Bettors in Tennessee can look forward to all of the following… and plenty more:

  • Moneyline
  • Spread
  • Over/Under
  • Prop bets (excluding NCAA)
  • Parlays

(Top Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

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