Is Sports Betting Legal in Tennessee?

Looking at Tennessee's highly competitive, and lucrative, college and professional sports markets, one might think they would have the flexible sports betting and general gambling laws to complement them. They don't. Not even kind of. Tennessee is more outdated than not when it comes to wagering on a general basis, which can make life difficult, albeit not unmanageable, for betting enthusiasts.

Tennessee Sports Betting Law

Betting on sports is a non-starter in Tennessee. Like, not even a little bit. The primary reason: They don't have casinos in the state. Yes, none. Zippity doo dah. Legislation has been proposed to change that; at the very least, it's been talked about. But nothing tangible has yet to come of it. And without casinos, Tennessee doesn't have the incentive to try legalizing sports betting, let alone actually legalize it. They need to change their stance on casinos first. Sports gambling will come after...if it comes at all.

No Casinos

To reiterate, there are no casinos on Tennessee grounds. Residents can explore their options in Tunica, Mississippi, if they need to get their gambling fix. Otherwise, they'll need to check out online casinos and sportsbooks to satiate their betting appetite.

Online Gambling: A Welcomed Unknown

Tennessee doesn't currently have anything on record validating or denouncing participation in online gambling. As far as residents of the state should be concerned, this is a good thing. It means that they can begin to justify using digital forms of wagering, like online sportsbooks and casinos.

As always, caution must be exercised. Since there is very little protecting you as you venture into the digital gambling world, you need to be mindful of what you're doing. Only register and deposit with legitimate websites. Authenticity can be determined by scouring the internet for reviews.

Beyond this, you don't want to draw attention to yourself in any way. Limit the amount you deposit and withdraw, sticking to sums that aren't at risk of being flagged by your banks, who might then report it to the government, creating unnecessary issues for you.

Daily Fantasy Sports Are, For Some Reason, Allowed

Yes, daily fantasy sports are permitted in Tennessee.

No, this doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. 

Legalizing daily fantasy sports is typically the first step toward addressing the issue of sports gambling altogether. But Tennessee hasn't shown much in the way of moving on that front. Discussions have taken place. They're still taking place. But official proposals and on-record conversations and votes amongst state branches are few and far between. 

All of which should make Tennessee residents appreciate their access to sites like Draft Kings and FanDuel. It's about as local as gambling will get for them at the moment.

Poker is Illegal (Wink, Wink)

Tennessee does not technically allow poker.

Emphasis on technically

Chris Moneymaker, a Tennessee resident, counts himself among the World Series of Poker victors. How did he hone his craft if poker is illegal? Online is the obvious answer, but with someone of that caliber, live-action games need to take place, if only as a form of practice. Tennessee doesn't have poker rooms or casinos with poker rooms, but they do have larger-scale games speckled throughout the state. Attend them at your own personal risk.

Tennessee Gambling Law Overview

Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren't allowed in Tennessee at this time.

  • Casino Gambling: Not legal
  • Tribal Gambling: Not legal
  • Poker: Not legal
  • Horse-Race Betting: Legal
  • Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
  • Lottery: Legal
  • Daily Fantasy Betting: Legal
  • Social Gambling: Not legal (but inching closer to "not specified)
  • Charitable Gambling: Legal
  • Online Gambling: Not specified

Tennessee Sports Teams

Tennessee Titans (NFL)

The Tennessee Titans franchise is almost 60 years old when you account for the time they spent as the Houston Oilers. But they have only been the Tennessee Oilers/Titans since 1997.

They've made six playoff appearances during that time, including one Super Bowl cameo in their third year of (Tennessee-based) existence.

All of those postseason berths, however, came prior to 2009. They haven't made the playoffs since 2008 and are currently trying to complete a rebuild around quarterback Marcus Mariota, who despite showing promise is still only two years deep into his career.

Tennessee Volunteers (College Basketball and Football)

The Tennessee Volunteers' basketball program has been around for nearly 110 years, over which time they've made just 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, without ever winning a national title.

However, they have been the benefactors of some semi-recent success. Eleven of their tournament trips came between 1997-98 and 2013-14. They haven't returned to the big dance since, but still carry cachet among the state's fans.

Meanwhile, the Volunteers' football program has been far more relevant. They've made 52 Bowl-game bids throughout their 113-year lifespan—nearly an average of one championship-level tilt every year. Most recently, they have rattled off three consecutive Bowl victories (2014, 2015, 2016) while establishing themselves as one of the SEC's most feared powerhouses.

This era of mild decoration comes at a welcomed time, since the Volunteers spent the three years prior to 2014 toiling away in sub-.500 records and general mediocrity.

Memphis Grizzlies (NBA)

Hello, consistency.

The Memphis Grizzlies are, by NBA standards, a relatively young team. They've been around for just 22 years. And yet, they have seldom struggled to remain relevant. The absence of a championship is offset by their 10 playoff appearances, the last seven of which have come in consecutive years.

Stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are currently ensuring this streak continues.

They're also the last remaining remnants of the Grit 'N Grind era—a period of time punctuated by annual playoff trips and stingy defensive sets. That style of play is largely outdated around the league, and the Grizzlies themselves have moved away from it over the last year or two, but it holds a special place in this franchise's heart. To answer your question, no, the Grizzlies aren't a threat to win a championship anytime soon. They are, however, in reasonable enough position to potentially extend their postseason streak into a 10th year. 

Tennessee's Biggest Sporting Event of the Year

Tennessee hosts plenty of NASCAR events at Bristol Motor Sports Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. The 162,000-capacity track broke ground in 1960 and is home to so many different NASCAR races each year, there is no point in listing them all. It would take forever.

With that said, these are the biggies: Food City 500, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300, Food City 300 and UNOH 200 (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series).

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