Tennessee Online Sports Betting – News and Updates on Sports Betting Legislation
Pledge Your Support for Tennessee Online Sports Betting!
Are you a Tennessee sports bettor and fan who wants to be able to easily place bets on your smartphone, tablet or computer? Once thought to be a longshot in tennessee, online sports betting legislation has passed and will become law.
Even though legislation has passed, you can still let your TN reps know that you support their decision on sports betting!
All you need to do to lend your voice to the legalization of Tennessee online sports betting is fill out the form below, which will let lawmakers know that you support them bringing legal online sports betting to Tennessee.
Ever since May 2018, states can now legalize sports betting thanks to a United States Supreme Court ruling. Since then, seven states have started taking bets, with several others very close to launch. Tennessee, not known as a gambling-friendly state, surprised the nation by starting the legislative journey towards sports betting legalization. With no casinos inside the states borders, and the closest offerings to sports bets being limited horse race betting and the state lottery, Tennessee passed a mobile only bill in May 2019. Gov. Bill Lee made the bill law without his signature. This is his way of saying that he neither endorses the bill or rejects the bill.
Tennessee Online 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 betting:
- 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 advance 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.
- The bill is now on the Governors desk. Governor Lee’s press secretary stated that Lee plans on letting the bill become law without a signature.
What is in the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act?
- Sports betting would be regulated by the state lottery.
- TN would not allow for any retail sports wagering.
- In person registration would be required before placing mobile wagers.
- Sports betting would be taxed at 10% and the annual licensing fee would cost $7500. Money would go towards the state’s general fund.
- Betting would be allowed on all professional and NCAA sporting events.
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, other states including West Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania have started taking bets.
Outlook for Online Sports Betting in Tennessee
In a historic move, Tennessee is the first state to pass a “mobile only” sports betting bill. With no casinos and no real history of gambling in the state, it makes sense for Tennessee. There was discussion of retail locations or standalone kiosks, but in the end, a mobile only bill made it through legislature and is sitting on the Governors desk.
A mobile only betting system should not hurt revenue much. As we have seen in New Jersey, where over 80% of all wagering is done online, people prefer to place their bets online. Tennessee stands to bring in much more tax revenue than states considering live retail betting only.
It is too early to determine a launch date for any sport betting sites in Tennessee. The legislation has an effective date of July 1, 2019, which means we will know more mid summer. Being that the state has no real gambling experience outside of a state lottery, the earliest we should see any sites go live would be early 2020, with a more realistic launch of early summer 2020.
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.
The closest we get to actual gambling in the state of TN is 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 games such as bingo, poker or 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.”
The law also states that you could be arrested for even owning a known gambling device. A card shuffler could land you a $50 fine for your first offense.
The fact that a gambling-averse state like Tennessee is even looking at sports betting shows the need for revenue in the state. Any step forward towards any form of gambling is a huge positive for sports bettors in Tennessee.
Tennessee Online Sports Betting FAQs
Is sports betting legal in Tennessee?
Awaiting Governor approval, but should be legal in the coming months.
Where will I be able to place a sports bet in Tennessee when it does become legal?
The state plans on allowing sport betting online only.
What sports can I bet on if sports betting becomes legal?
All professional and collegiate sports.
When will sports betting go live in Tennessee?
There is no direct timeline, but should be early to mid 2020.
What types of bets will I be able to make?
- Prop bets (excluding NCAA)
(Top Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)