Tennessee Sports Betting Law

After a long battle between Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, the Volunteer State has officially made sports betting legal. The bill, which did not receive the governor’s signature, ultimately passed in both of the Assembly’s chambers by an ultra-thin margin of just two votes.

The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, as the bill is named, took effect on July 1, 2019. However, COVID-19, among other things, has slowed the official launch of sports betting apps within the state. 

What’s unique about the Act is that it only allows online or mobile sports betting in Tennessee. Current Tennessee law still bans retail casinos, so there aren’t any brick-and-mortar establishments in the state with which digital operators can make partnerships.

What Exactly Did The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act Authorize?

Tennessee’s sports betting bill can be viewed as either restrictive and open, depending on your perspective.

While the bill only allows online sports betting (and not retail), there isn’t a cap on the maximum number of operators within the state. Any operator can earn the privilege of serving Tennessee residents by paying $750,000 a year for their license.

However, operators must pay a 20% tax rate and use official league data for their odds. This places some limitations on operators, but it may result in great competition throughout the state (which could be good for sports bettors).

What the act did not do is legalize other forms of gambling, such as casinos, poker, or slots games. Furthermore, it did not authorize brick-and-mortar or retail sports betting. This is likely because Tennessee outlaws retail casinos of every kind.

Sports Betting Tax RateLicense FeeProducts LegalizedSigned into Law
20%$750,000Online Sports BettingMay 24, 2019

Tennessee Sports Gaming Bill Timeline

Early in 2019, Rep. Rick Staples sponsored the bill that would eventually become the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act. However, throughout the first half of the year, the Act was blocked by other representatives and amendments that sought to stall its progress.

Multiple lawmakers voiced concerns throughout many hearings, and several tried to undermine the various provisions within the Act. Rep. Bob Ramsey managed to include a ban on collegiate proposition bets, which Staples allowed since it meant that the Act might go to vote.

Eventually, the Act passed in both chambers of Tennessee’s General Assembly, which meant that the law went to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee.

Bill Lee did not sign the bill into law but did not veto it either. He let the bill become a law without his signature as a form of passive objection. He reportedly knew that sports betting was coming sooner or later and hoped that the Act would allow for enough regulation to avoid his concerns about poverty and crime levels.

The Act then sat for a while until July 1, 2019, when it took effect. At that point, the Tennessee Lottery began drafting regulations for online sports operators. It also began the process of accepting licensing applications.

While efforts to finalize rules and complete background checks were delayed due to COVID-19, Tennessee Education Lottery CEO Rebecca Hargrove indicated that Tennessee sports betting should begin by November 1, 2020 at the latest.

Online Gambling Fact Table For Tennessee

Minimum Gambling Age In TennesseeWhat Kinds Of Online Gambling Are Legal In Tennessee?When Did Online Sports Betting launch In Tennessee?Who Regulates Online Gambling In Tennessee?
18 for the lottery, 21 for sports bettingOnline sports betting, lottery, horse racingNovember 1, 2020Tennessee Lottery

Tennessee Sports Betting Bill FAQ

Is Online Gambling Safe?

Yes. Online gambling is generally safe so long as you participate with licensed operators like DraftKings and FanDuel. You should avoid illegal or offshore online gambling sites that don’t have anyone to report to and aren’t well regulated.

Sports betting operators and gambling sites that have licenses are trustworthy because they are held accountable by government regulators. They also tend to have top-of-the-line security and SSL certification, which protects the sensitive data of their users. 

How Can I Ensure That My Personal Information Is Safe With Online Sports Betting Sites In Tennessee?

Go to the official website of the operator. Look for a padlock symbol in the address bar. If there is a padlock, this indicates that the website is protected by SSL encryption.

Furthermore, you can usually investigate a site or app for details about their security. Contact their customer service if you have questions.

Ultimately, no website or mobile app is 100% safe. But all legitimate online sports betting apps do an overall good job of protecting the personal information of their users.

Who operates the online sports betting apps in Tennessee?

Currently, three operators have been approved for sports betting licenses: DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM. BetMGM has also secured a deal with the NFL team the Tennessee Titans, making them the team’s official sportsbook partner.

What happens if I have a dispute with a sports betting site in Tennessee?

If you have a dispute with online sports betting app, you can contact the Tennessee Lottery, which is responsible for regulating all gambling activities in the state. 

Who is in charge of regulating Tennessee’s online sports betting sites?

The Tennessee Lottery will be responsible for regulating all online gambling sites, including mobile sportsbooks. 

What is the difference between legal and illegal online gambling sites?

A third-party regulatory body, like the Tennessee Lottery, will vet legal online sports betting sites, checking into things like criminal background and cybersecurity. For this reason, legal apps or websites are much safer to use.