Tennessee is the only state that permits online sports betting but has no casinos. There are no retail sportsbooks in the state. All betting is online and on mobile devices. Bettors must be at least 21 years old. The Tennessee Sports Wagering Council regulates the industry.
History Behind Legal Sports Betting in Tennessee
Sports betting was illegal under federal law in the United States, except in four states, from 1992 to 2018. Sports betting was banned when the federal government passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 1992.
Offshore sportsbooks were taking over the sports betting industry in the country. In 2018, PASPA was overturned in court. The entire landscape of legal sports betting changed in the United States.
States were missing out on the opportunity to collect massive tax revenue figures from the sports betting industry. This forced many states to push for the legalization of sports betting in the country.
PASPA made its way to the Supreme Court’s docket, and it was overturned by a 6-3 decision in May of 2018. This opened the door for the individual states to conduct sports betting. Tennessee was relatively slow to jump on the sports betting bandwagon compared to other states.
Sports betting is now legal in Tennessee, but the sports betting landscape is very underdeveloped compared to other legal states. Tennessee has never been a proponent of gambling. The state doesn’t have any casinos or racetracks. However, Tennessee is a leader when it comes to southern states for sports betting.
Sports betting was approved in Tennessee in April of 2019. There were some discrepancies amongst the state legislature, but it was able to get a bill passed less than one year after the PASPA decision. Governor Bill Lee didn’t have to sign the sports betting law to have it officially passed, so residents became very excited when the legislature announced the bill in April 2019.
Sports betting officially entered Tennessee on Nov. 1, 2020. Residents can currently only utilize online sports betting platforms. There are no retail sportsbooks in Tennessee. All bets are made on mobile devices and computers.
Financial History Behind Legal Sports Betting in Tennessee
Tennessee sports betting has only been operating for a short period. However, the state is unlike any other when it comes to sports betting. The first thing to note about the financial aspect of legal sports betting in the state is the 10% rule. This rule was passed by the Tennessee legislature when it legalized sports betting in April 2019.
The state will benefit from this law, but bettors will be affected drastically. Tennessee requires that all online sportsbooks in the state hold 10% of their handle. This was not a feasible plan. Tennessee later went to a 20% tax rate.
In the first eight days of sports betting, the state of Tennessee made $509,000 in tax revenue, which is phenomenal. Tennessee’s entire sports betting handle for November was between $125 and $135 million.
Tennessee started strong. However, today, there is mobile betting in Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia, as well as retail sportsbooks in Tunica, Mississippi. This slowed some of the border crossings to bet on sports. Alabama and Georgia still do not have legal sports betting, so some action still comes from those states.
Sportsbook Apps in Tennessee
Tennessee has 10 online sportsbooks operating in the state. The four major sportsbooks are Caesars, FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM.
FanDuel, along with DraftKings, had a large presence in the state when it came to daily fantasy sports for money. This was the closest thing to legal sports betting that people could do in the state until Nov. 1, 2020. If residents had an account on FanDuel, they could simply download the app and begin sports betting immediately. This made the convenience factor very high for FanDuel.
DraftKings gave daily fantasy players the same ease when it came to accessing its sportsbook. All players had to do was download the DraftKings Sportsbook app, and they could immediately begin gambling.
All money from an individual’s DraftKings and FanDuel Fantasy accounts became accessible in the sportsbook apps on Nov. 1, 2020. Tennessee was DraftKings’ ninth state where its sportsbook became accessible. It was number eight for FanDuel.
Tennessee is the eighth state where BetMGM is available. BetMGM is another top-tier online book that’s very popular among sports bettors. BetMGM has the upper hand on the other books when it comes to football betting. The company formed a partnership with the Tennessee Titans where both brands would cross-promote each other. This will result in football bettors flocking towards BetMGM for many football seasons to come.
Tennessee also has a state-run online sportsbook called Action 24/7, which is a first in the national sports betting industry. The company is led by entrepreneur Tina Hodges and supported by numerous local investors. The Action 24/7 headquarters are in Nashville. The book features sports from all over the country but will showcase several promotions based on Tennessee sports.
Additional Sportsbooks Join TN
After the initial four sportsbooks launched in the state, there has been slow growth over the last few years. Most of the newest sportsbook operators are big names in the industry as well, but there is also a relatively new option.
Caesars Sportsbook made a big move after acquiring William Hill and that allowed it to launch in Tennessee as well. Caesars offers some terrific bonuses and promotions as well as great international betting options.
Wagr Sportsbook is a completely new name in the U.S. sports betting industry, but it’s a name that might become more popular. Wagr offers peer-to-peer sports betting, and it did take Tennessee several months before it decided that it was comfortable with this sports betting option.
The state hosts ten online sports betting platforms:
- Action 24/7
- ESPN Bet
- Hard Rock
Retail Sportsbooks to Bet at in Tennessee
Tennessee is rare in the sense that it doesn’t offer players any retail sportsbooks to bet at in the state. There are a few reasons for this, but it doesn’t affect Tennessee’s sports betting revenue. Typically, retail sportsbooks throughout the United States are offered in casinos. Tennessee doesn’t have any casinos operating in the state. All casino games such as poker, blackjack, and slots are illegal in the state.
When you consider this fact, it’s amazing that sports betting has any presence in the state. Tennessee has never been in favor of gambling.
There have been proponents in the Tennessee Legislature over the years who have wanted to bring gambling to the state in some form before sports betting. In 1987, the legislature wanted to bring horse racing to the state. There was some progress made on a bill called the Racing Control Act. However, it didn’t pick up enough steam to be utilized in the state, and it ended up being repealed in 2015.
Horse race betting is legal in the state, but a track or casino never was able to call Tennessee home. With no casinos in Tennessee, retail sportsbooks don’t look promising in the state for the near future. However, it may be too early in the state’s sports betting history to make an assessment. If the state government is pleased with tax revenue, it may become more receptive to retail sportsbooks in the future.
Despite the lack of retail sportsbooks, Tennessee has 10 great options for players to test their luck on sports. Online sportsbooks are the most popular places for bettors to wager on sports throughout the country.
Sports Teams to Bet on in Tennessee
Tennessee is a sports state. People in the state value professional and collegiate sports. Tennessee state gambling law allows for betting on collegiate sporting events with some restrictions. There are no in-game bets allowed on any collegiate contests, but bettors can still place pregame wagers.
Tennessee has multiple colleges that compete at the Division I level for football and basketball. The most popular schools to bet on in the state are the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, the University of Memphis, and Middle Tennessee State University.
Three Professional Sports Teams
Three professional sports franchises call the state of Tennessee home, which is a large number relative to many other states. The three franchises are the Tennessee Titans, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Nashville Predators.
The Tennessee Titans are in the National Football League and are members of the AFC South Division. The team relocated to Tennessee from Houston in 1997. The Titans are coached by Mike Vrabel and owned by Amy Adams Strunk. The franchise hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Their latest playoff appearance came in 2019.
The Memphis Grizzlies play in the Southwest Division of the NBA‘s Western Conference. The team is coached by Taylor Jenkins and owned by multiple investors who make up Memphis Basketball LLC. The team moved to Memphis from Vancouver in 2001 and hasn’t taken home any NBA hardware in its existence. The Grizzlies won their first Southwest Division title in the 2021-22 season.
The Nashville Predators play in the NHL. The team is a member of the Central Division in the Western Conference. The Predators are coached by John Hynes and owned by Predator Holdings LLC. The team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup but has had success as of late in its division and conference and has become known for producing quality defensemen and goaltenders. The Predators won a conference title in 2016-17 and have won two division titles since 2017. In 2016-17, the team was defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins took the series in six games.
FAQ for Sports Betting in Tennessee
Is sports betting legal in Tennessee?
Yes. Sports betting was legalized in April of 2019. This action in the state legislature was able to occur because the Supreme Court decided to overturn PASPA in the summer of 2018.
When did sports betting launch in Tennessee?
Sports betting was legalized in April of 2019 but didn’t launch until Nov. 1, 2020. This period between the legalization and launch date was left for planning and contract negotiation with sportsbooks.
What is the legal betting age in Tennessee?
To place a bet on a Tennessee sportsbook, you must be 21 years of age.
Can I bet on a Tennessee sportsbook if I’m in the South but not a resident of Tennessee?
Yes, but you must be within state borders. You’re able to download all 10 legal apps outside of Tennessee. You can create an account and look at odd/lines. However, to place a bet, you must be inside the state’s borders and be at least 21 years old. All 10 apps utilize your device’s GPS tracking system to ensure that you’re in a legal area.
Can I bet on college sports on Tennessee sportsbooks?
Yes. You can bet on college teams in Tennessee and throughout the rest of the country. However, there are some restrictions on college betting. There is no live betting for college sports.
Does Tennessee have any retail sportsbooks?
No. Tennessee doesn’t have any land-locked sportsbooks. Casino gambling is banned in the state, so retail sportsbooks don’t look promising.