A Guide to Gambling in Tennessee

tennessee flagTennessee has a rich history including being the birthplace of famous rock and roll icon Elvis Presley. Today, Tennessee is best known for its excellent country music, whiskey, and southern BBQ food. Being a Southern state, Tennessee is also known for its conservative laws, and compared to many other US states, the laws against gambling are quite restrictive. There are no casinos at all in Tennessee but surprisingly, the state has recently legalized sports betting and the door may be open for further progress in terms of gambling laws.

In this guide, you’ll be able to learn more about gambling laws in Tennessee and what types of gambling are allowed in the state. Whether you live in Tennessee or you’re simply visiting, it’s helpful to know what you can and can’t do when it comes to gambling. Here you’ll be able to find out everything to do with gambling in TN including what the rules are regarding online gambling and whether online gambling is legal. You’ll also be able to discover the different types of gambling available in the state and what the rules are regarding sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and casinos. You’ll also learn more about social casinos in Tennessee and the state lottery.

While Tennessee does have a lot of restrictions against legal gambling, it’s not all bad news for gambling enthusiasts. If you want to get involved with gambling in the state, simply take a look at our guide and learn about which restrictions apply to you. Once you know the rules, you’ll be free to gamble and enjoy yourself without worrying about the law.

Online Gambling and Tennessee Law

Tennessee unfortunately has some incredibly broad laws relating to online gambling within the state. While a lot of US states take a dim view towards online gambling services rather than the players themselves, Tennessee takes it a step further. The state can potentially prosecute those found to be playing at online casinos or Poker sites online.

While the law may be very strict against online casinos and Poker sites, it’s a different story altogether for online sportsbooks. Sports are massively popular in Tennessee, with college football and the NFL drawing the biggest crowds. It’s little surprise then, that so many Tennesseans love to place sports bets. While this was technically illegal for a long time, the state brought in a bill to legalize sports betting in 2019. What makes the Tennessee situation so unique is that it’s the first state to only feature online sports betting, with retail locations still being banned by law.

Aside from sports betting, those living in Tennessee or visiting the state can also enjoy online fantasy sports and online social casinos. Fantasy sports let players compete against one another for prize pools and there are several big fantasy sports sites that are available to anyone in Tennessee. Social casinos provide all the games of online casinos only without the option of playing for real money.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Tennessee?

All forms of online gambling bar sports betting are illegal in Tennessee. While most states only punish online gambling operators for running gambling platforms, Tennessee also has laws that can effectively punish players too. Under Tenessee law, players can face fines, jail time, and even have their bankroll confiscated by the police if they’re found to be gambling at an online casino or Poker site. Despite this law, however, there has never been an arrest much less a prosecution for online gambling in the state.

While this law may put people off from online gambling, the recent change in 2019 means that Tennessee residents and visitors can place sports bets online legally. It’s also highly unlikely that anyone would ever encounter any legal trouble if they were to play at an offshore online casino or Poker site.

Gambling in Tennessee

If you’re new to gambling and want to know exactly where you can and can’t gamble in the state of Tennessee, take a look at the full details below. We’ve provided explanations for all the major types of gambling including what they are, whether they’re legal and how you can join in the fun. Remember that Tennessee has strict laws against gambling compared to a lot of other states, so if you’re visiting from somewhere else in the US, you may be surprised by the lack of options.

Sports Betting

In-person sports betting is against the law in Tennessee, meaning there are no retail sports betting operators anywhere in the state. This is fairly common in the US, with few states offering fully legal sports betting. The laws are changing, however, with multiple states recently voting to legalize sports betting, both online and in person. A change to federal law gave states more freedom over sports betting laws and a lot of states have decided to legalize and regulate it.

In 2019, Tennessee lawmakers voted to make online sports betting legal. This came as a surprise to many considering the state’s attitudes towards other forms of gambling. But considering how popular sports are in Tennessee, perhaps it’s not as surprising as it first seemed. While Tennessee sports betting is now legal, it’s confined to online sportsbooks. As yet, in-person sports betting in Tennessee remains against the law and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. If you want to get into Tennessee sports betting, simply choose from any of the available sports betting platforms and get started.

Those who live in Tennessee and even those simply visiting the state can sign up to any of the numerous sports betting platforms available and legally place bets online. These online sports betting platforms offer odds on all of the most popular options in the US including the NFL, NBA, MLB, and much more. You’ll also be able to place wagers on overseas sports and markets too and live betting options are also featured at most Tennessee sports betting sites. To join in sports wagering, you’ll need to be at least twenty-one years old and must prove that you’re currently in the state.

Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports offer an interesting alternative to sports fans who enjoy the thrill of winning real money. When you join a fantasy sports site, you can create teams in lots of different sports and enter lots of different competitions which offer prizes. Players compete against each other, which is why most US states don’t consider fantasy sports as a form of online gambling.

In Tennessee, all of the major fantasy sports platforms are available online and players can sign up for free or play for real cash. The Fantasy Sports Act of 2016 was passed to ensure that fantasy sports were legal in the state and give residents and visitors the opportunity to join in all the fun. Leagues available for fantasy sports competitions include the NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA, and even college sports. With so much variety and players from all over the US, there are plenty of opportunities to win big prizes.

Social Casinos

While online casinos are strictly against the law both to operate in Tennessee and to play at, there are alternative options. Social casinos provide hundreds of different casino games including favorites such as Blackjack and Roulette. At most social casino sites, these games are played for fun and there’s no money being staked, however, some social casinos do also offer giveaways, competitions, and prizes. Players in Tennessee need to be careful about playing any sort of casino game that offers potential prizes as this may fall foul of the state gambling laws.

There are lots of social casinos available to Tennessee players and these sites offer a nice alternative to online casinos. Of course, you can’t win any real money by playing at these sites, but there’s still a lot of fun and excitement to be had. You can join leaderboards, take part in friendly tournaments, and experience just about every kind of casino game you can think of. Don’t forget that when you play at these sites, anything that may involve prizes could be considered breaking the law in Tennessee. If you want to stay safe, ensure that you’re just playing for fun and not for prizes.

Land-based Casinos

Land-based casinos in the US are usually located on tribal land, with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 giving Native American tribes permission to build casinos on their reservations. These casinos offer slots, table games, and other games of chance. However, some states have rules about what kind of games can be offered, with games involving dice or balls banned. Brick and mortar casinos can be found all over the US, although some states have much fewer than others.

Unfortunately for casino lovers in the state of Tennessee, both online and land-based casinos are against the law. No casinos are able to operate within the state and this also goes for tribal casinos. Tennessee is one of the few US states without a single casino inside its borders and if players want to enjoy the thrills of the casino, they’ll have to travel elsewhere.

Casinos that operate outside of Tennessee include more than nine different casinos located in the city of Tunica, in Mississipi. These casinos are around 40 miles away from Memphis Tennessee, meaning that legal land-based casinos aren’t too far away. There are also casinos operating legally in Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina.


While there are a lot of restrictions on gambling in the state of Tennessee, there are still options available for playing the lottery. The Volunteer State offers several different state and multi-state lotteries for residents to play. These include several weekly draws, daily draws, and instant scratch-off wins. Games include Cash 4 Life, Tennessee Quick Cash, Keno, Cash 3, and Cash 4. Players simply buy a ticket and wait for the draw to see if their numbers match. Draws can be checked online and it’s a good idea to check whether you’re playing a daily or weekly draw before you buy. Some games even offer multiple draws per day, increasing your chances of winning.

The best part about playing the state lottery is that it also supports a good cause. The Tennessee education lottery fund provides scholarships and grants to help improve education and give people a better chance of success in life. Aside from the state lottery, residents in Tennessee can also take part in big multi-state lotteries for a chance to win huge jackpots. Games like Mega Millions and Powerball can offer prizes worth millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars. To be in with a chance of winning, you simply need to buy a ticket and check the draw. Anyone in Tennessee can buy a ticket for any of the lottery games on offer, provided they’re at least 18 years old.

History of Gambling in Tennessee

Compared to some other US states, Tennessee doesn’t have quite as much history when it comes to gambling. The state has been historically against all forms of gambling for a long time, and it’s only in recent years that things have changed for residents of the Volunteer State.

In 1905, Tennessee lawmakers decided to impose a blanket ban on all forms of gambling. At the time, gambling, particularly horse racing, was growing in popularity across the US. However, there were many people who saw gambling as a pathway to addiction, vice, and crime. The law effectively stopped all forms of gambling from being able to develop in Tennessee and it wasn’t until several decades later that things changed.

It wasn’t until 2003, nearly one hundred years later that Tennessee relaxed its gambling laws enough to allow for state lotteries. The lottery in Tennessee has helped to fund education as well as giving players the chance to win life-changing sums of money. In 2010, charity Bingo games were also legalized, providing charity groups a new way to raise funds.

Finally, we arrive at the modern-day with 2019 being a big year for gambling in Tennessee. Governor Bill Lee signed Tennessee sports betting into law, allowing those in the state to partake in online betting at legal and regulated sites. While there are still a lot of restrictions on gambling in TN, it’s great to see progress being made and perhaps a sign that other forms of gambling may also be legalized in the near future.