The gambling outlook in Tennessee

In the heart of Tennessee, the gambling scene in 2023 is as lively as a jukebox that's run out of tunes. The Volunteer State, known for its country music and smoky mountain charm, has always been tighter than a new pair of cowboy boots when it comes to gambling. It's a world away from the glitz and glamor of Vegas or the bustling boardwalk of Atlantic City.

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📖 Published on: June 15th, 2023

✍️ Updated: 3 months ago

⏳ 26 mins read

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Tennessee's approach to gambling is as straight as an arrow. If you're hoping to spin the roulette wheel or try your luck at a game of poker, you're out of luck. Tennessee's gambling laws are as broad as the Mississippi River, covering any form of betting that involves even a hint of chance. It's a bitter pill to swallow for those with a taste for the poker table or the slot machine.

But it's not all bad news. The state has thrown a bone to sports fans, with mobile sports betting getting the green light in 2019. And for those who enjoy a flutter on the lottery or a charitable raffle, you're in the clear. But don't hold your breath for any further expansion. The governor has made it clear that he'd sooner wrestle a rattlesnake than sign off on more gambling. So for now, it looks like Tennessee will remain as dry as a bone when it comes to casinos and poker rooms.

Tennessee gambling laws and regulations

In the land of the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee's gambling laws in 2023 are as firm as a hickory stump. The Volunteer State, known for its bluegrass and barbecue, has a gambling rulebook that's as tight as a tick. It's a different ball game from the high-stakes hustle of Vegas or the roulette rush of Atlantic City.

Tennessee's gambling laws, as clear as a mountain spring, are regulated by the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. They're the big cheese, overseeing all legal gambling activities in the state. If you're thinking of rolling the dice or going all-in on a poker hand, you'd better think twice. The state's laws are as wide as the Tennessee River, covering any form of betting that involves even a hint of chance.

If you're caught with your hand in the cookie jar, participating in illegal gambling, you're looking at a Class C misdemeanor. That's a slap on the wrist that could leave you lighter by up to $50 in fines and possibly even some jail time.

But it's not all as gloomy as a rainy day in Nashville. The state has given the green light to mobile sports betting in 2019. And for those who enjoy a flutter on the lottery or a charitable raffle, you're as golden as a Tennessee sunrise. But don't bet your bottom dollar on any further expansion. The governor has made it clear that he'd sooner ride a bull than sign off on more gambling. So, for now, Tennessee remains as dry as a well-done steak when it comes to casinos and poker rooms.


What is considered legal gambling

In the heart of Tennessee, where country music and barbecue reign supreme, legal gambling is as rare as a blue moon. The Volunteer State keeps a tight lid on the gambling pot, allowing only a handful of betting activities to pass muster.

First up, there's the state lottery. As popular as a country fair, the lottery gives folks a chance to test their luck without stepping on the wrong side of the law. Then you've got charitable raffles, as welcome as a cool breeze on a hot summer day, provided they're run by licensed organizations.

In a twist that surprised folks more than a cat with a long tail in a room full of rocking chairs, Tennessee gave the nod to mobile sports betting in 2019. But don't bet your boots on any more gambling options. The governor has made it clear that he'd sooner dance with a rattlesnake than approve more gambling.

Don't forget about horse betting. While there ain't a horse track or off-track betting parlor in sight, Tennesseans can place their bets online through sites operating under federal laws. The only active site for horse betting in Tennessee is TwinSpires.

Last but not least, daily fantasy sports contests got the go-ahead in 2016 with the Fantasy Sports Act. So, while the gambling scene in Tennessee might not be as lively as a barn dance, there are still a few ways to place a legal bet.


What is considered illegal gambling

In the Volunteer State of Tennessee, illegal gambling is as unwelcome as a skunk at a lawn party. The state's laws don't take kindly to any form of casino-style shenanigans, whether they're commercial, tribal, or in a hybrid racino form. There ain't no racinos because there ain't no race tracks; pari-mutuel bets are as rare as hen's teeth under Tennessee law. And don't even think about "social gambling" - there's no exception for that.

Online casinos and poker rooms might as well be ghost towns in Tennessee. Sure, there are a few online poker rooms that'll welcome players from Tennessee, but with the state's laws tighter than a new pair of boots, online poker is about as likely as a snowstorm in July.

And if you're thinking about hitting up a land-based casino, you're barking up the wrong tree. Tennessee doesn't have a single casino-style facility, and there's about as much desire to legalize them as there is to put a porch on a pig pen.

There ain't no tribal casinos, shipboard casinos, or floating casinos in Tennessee. Off-track betting is as forbidden as moonshine.

If you're caught up in illegal gambling, you're in for a world of hurt. It's considered a misdemeanor, and the law can confiscate your gambling gear and the money involved faster than a greased pig at a county fair.


Legal age to gamble in Tennessee

In the harmonious heartland of Tennessee, where the sweet strains of country music fill the air, the question of the legal age to gamble dances around like a leaf in the wind. The Volunteer State, known for its smoky mountains and soulful tunes, doesn't explicitly state the legal age for gambling in its rulebook.

However, if you're keen on trying your luck with the state lottery or a charitable raffle, you're generally good to go once you've got 18 candles on your birthday cake. It's a rite of passage, like your first slow dance or the thrill of getting behind the wheel for the first time.

As for mobile sports betting, the law is as clear as a mountain stream - you've got to be 21, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. So, while the gambling scene in Tennessee might be as quiet as a church mouse, there are still a few ways for folks of a certain age to try their luck.

Real money casinos in Tennessee

In the scenic state of Tennessee, the idea of real money casinos is as rare as a four-leaf clover. The Volunteer State, with its rich history and southern charm, has a gambling landscape that's as quiet as a library.

Tennessee doesn't play host to real money casinos. In fact, you won't find a single casino within the state's borders. The laws are crystal clear - casino-style gambling, whether it's a flashy Vegas-style establishment or a tribal casino, simply isn't allowed.

So, if you're yearning for the excitement of the roulette wheel or the anticipation of the blackjack table, you might find yourself out of luck. The state's stance on gambling is as firm as a rock, and it doesn't look like it'll be shifting anytime soon.

But don't be disheartened. While the state might not have any real money casinos, there are still a few legal gambling options. From the state lottery to mobile sports betting, Tennessee offers a few avenues for those looking to try their luck, as long as you stick to the rules.

Tennessee gambling


Online casinos

In the rolling hills of Tennessee, the concept of online casinos is as elusive as a morning fog. The Volunteer State, with its rich history and vibrant landscapes, has a stance on online gambling that's as firm as a mountain peak.

Tennessee doesn't extend a warm welcome to online casinos. In fact, the state's laws are as clear as a cloudless sky - online casino-style gambling simply isn't on the cards. Whether you're dreaming of spinning a virtual roulette wheel or trying your luck at online slots, you'll find that these activities are as absent as snow in summer.

The state's position on online gambling is as solid as a centuries-old oak, and it doesn't seem to be swaying in the breeze of change. So, if you're in Tennessee and yearning for the thrill of an online casino, you might find yourself as disappointed as a raindrop in a drought.


Land-based casinos

In Tennessee, the concept of land-based casinos remains a distant dream. This state, known for its rich history and breathtaking natural landscapes, holds a firm line against casino gambling. Tennessee's laws are unambiguous - casino-style gambling is not permitted.

Aspirations of spinning a roulette wheel or engaging in a thrilling game of blackjack are left unrealized, as these activities are conspicuously absent. The state's stance on casino gambling is unwavering and shows no signs of shifting anytime soon. Therefore, if you're in Tennessee and longing for the excitement of a land-based casino, you might find your hopes dashed.

Tribal casinos

In Tennessee, the presence of tribal casinos is non-existent. This state, celebrated for its historical richness and varied landscapes, does not host any tribal casinos. Tennessee upholds a stringent policy against most types of gambling, and tribal casinos fall under this umbrella.

The legal framework in Tennessee is explicit - gambling in the form of casinos, whether they're commercial or tribal, is not sanctioned. This implies that Tennessee does not engage in any agreements or compacts with Native American tribes for the operation of tribal casinos.

The absence of tribal casinos is significant, particularly when numerous other states have utilized tribal casinos to enhance tourism and stimulate revenue. However, Tennessee's rigid policy against most types of gambling has led to a scenario where tribal casinos are missing from the picture.

Consequently, if you're in Tennessee and have the desire to experience a tribal casino, you would need to venture to a neighboring state that permits such establishments. As it stands, there are no indications of any imminent changes to this policy, with the state maintaining its strict regulations against most forms of gambling.


Shipboard and floating casinos

In Tennessee, the concept of shipboard or floating casinos is simply not a part of the state's gambling landscape. Known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty, Tennessee has a strict policy when it comes to most forms of gambling, and this includes casinos on water.

The state's laws are explicit and leave no room for interpretation - casino-style gambling, whether on land or water, is not permitted. This means that you won't find any riverboats with flashing lights and ringing slot machines on Tennessee's waterways.

This absence of shipboard and floating casinos is in line with Tennessee's overall approach to gambling. The state has chosen to limit the types of gambling that are legal, focusing on the state lottery, charitable gaming, and online sports betting.

So, if you're in Tennessee and have a desire to experience the unique atmosphere of a shipboard or floating casino, you would need to venture to a state where such establishments are allowed.



In Tennessee, the idea of racinos, a blend of race tracks and casinos, is not part of the state's gambling scene. Tennessee, known for its vibrant music culture and stunning landscapes, has stringent regulations against most forms of gambling, and this includes racinos.

The state's laws are clear-cut and leave no room for ambiguity - casino-style gambling, even when combined with race tracks, is not allowed. This means that you won't find any establishments offering both horse racing and casino games in Tennessee.

This absence of racinos aligns with Tennessee's overall approach to gambling. The state has chosen to limit the types of gambling that are legal, focusing on the state lottery, charitable gaming, and online sports betting.

Therefore, if you're in Tennessee and wish to enjoy the unique mix of horse racing and casino gaming that racinos provide, you would need to journey to a state where such establishments are allowed.

Off-track betting

In Tennessee, off-track betting, including racinos and simulcast racing, is not part of the state's gambling offerings. Tennessee, recognized for its vibrant music heritage and captivating landscapes, upholds strict regulations against most forms of gambling, and off-track betting is included in these restrictions.

The state's laws are unambiguous - off-track betting, which allows for wagering on horse races taking place at other locations, is not permitted. This means that you won't find any establishments in Tennessee where you can place bets on horse races happening elsewhere.

This absence of off-track betting aligns with Tennessee's overall approach to gambling. The state has chosen to limit the types of gambling that are legal, focusing on the state lottery, charitable gaming, and online sports betting.

So, if you're in Tennessee and have a desire to experience off-track betting, you would need to travel to a state where such activities are allowed.

Sports betting

In Tennessee sports betting is the lone star in the state's otherwise quiet gambling sky. Known for its deep musical roots and stunning natural wonders, Tennessee has taken a modern route with sports betting, joining the exclusive club of states that allow online and mobile wagering.

The state's rules are cut and dried - sports betting is legal and under the watchful eye of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. This means folks in the state, whether they're residents or just passing through, can place bets on a wide array of sports events right from their digital devices.

What sets Tennessee apart is that it doesn't need a physical storefront for sports betting. All the action happens online, giving bettors the freedom to place their wagers from anywhere within the state lines.

Since getting the green light in 2019, sports betting has been on the upswing in Tennessee. A number of operators, including some big hitters in the industry, have scored licenses to offer sports betting in the state, giving sports fans a whole lot of options.

Tennessee sports betting

Social casinos

In Tennessee, social casinos have carved out a niche in the state's gambling scene. This state, known for its lively music and stunning vistas, has given a nod to social casinos as a form of entertainment that fits within its gambling guidelines.

Social casinos are online platforms that dish out casino-style games and they're all above board in Tennessee. These platforms let players dive into games like slots, poker, and blackjack, but there's a catch. Instead of laying down real money, players bet with virtual currency.

The draw of social casinos comes from their easy access and social element. Players can jump into these platforms from anywhere in the state and go head-to-head with friends or other players from all corners of the globe.

While social casinos don't let you pocket real cash, they do offer a taste of the casino game excitement without any financial gamble. This has made them a hit with many folks in Tennessee and those just passing through.

Daily fantasy sports

Tennessee DFS

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) have found a solid footing in Tennessee. The state recognizes DFS as a legal and popular form of online gaming, where participants create fantasy teams using real players from professional sports. The performance of these teams is then evaluated based on the actual statistical achievements of the players in real games.

Major DFS platforms, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, have established a strong presence in Tennessee, offering a variety of sports including NFL, NBA, MLB, and more. In 2016, Tennessee emerged as a trailblazer when it legalized and regulated DFS. The state implemented legislation that specifically recognized DFS and required operators to obtain a license from the Tennessee Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming.

The enthusiasm for sports in Tennessee has fueled the popularity of DFS. With professional teams like the Tennessee Titans (NFL), Nashville Predators (NHL), and Memphis Grizzlies (NBA) calling the state home, DFS has become a perfect match for Tennesseans. The opportunity to engage in daily contests and potentially win money based on skill and sports knowledge has drawn many residents to DFS platforms.


In Tennessee, bingo enjoys a unique status. It's one of the few forms of gambling that's legal, but there's a stipulation - it can only be run by charitable organizations. This means you won't find commercial bingo halls or games run for profit in the state.

The Tennessee Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming oversees the state's bingo regulations. Charitable groups looking to host bingo games must secure a license and follow strict guidelines concerning the use of proceeds, prize limits, and the number of games.

While commercial bingo halls are absent in Tennessee, many locals relish in participating in charitable bingo games. These games provide a social and entertaining activity that also benefits worthy causes in the community. Whether it's a church fundraiser or a charity event, bingo has carved out a place in the hearts of many Tennesseans.


Poker, a game synonymous with high-stakes gambling and strategy, has a somewhat complicated status in Tennessee. The state, while having a few legal forms of gambling, does not extend this legality to poker. Whether you're thinking of Texas Hold'em, Omaha, or Seven-Card Stud, you won't find any legal poker games, whether they're in person or online, within the state's borders.

Tennessee's laws are clear and unambiguous - poker is considered a form of gambling and is therefore not permitted. This includes both home games, even if no rake is taken, and online poker. The state does not have any licensed casinos, online or otherwise, that offer poker games.

However, there is one exception to this rule - social poker games. These are games where no money is exchanged, and they are legal in Tennessee. But if you're a poker enthusiast looking to play for real money, you'll have to travel to a neighboring state where poker is legal.

Despite the state's strict laws, poker remains a popular game among many Tennesseans, who hope that the future might bring a change in the state's approach to this classic card game.

Gambling tips

If you're gearing up to join the gambling fray in Tennessee, it's key to arm yourself with knowledge. The state offers a handful of legal gambling options, including the state lottery, charitable gaming, online sports betting, and social casinos.

Before you jump in, it's wise to set a gambling budget. This can help you keep tabs on your spending and ensure you're only playing with money you're comfortable losing. Keep in mind, gambling should be seen as a form of fun, not a money-making venture.

If online sports betting is your game, do your due diligence. A deep understanding of the sport, the teams, and the players can significantly enrich your betting experience and potentially boost your chances of placing successful bets.

For those drawn to social casino games, use these platforms as a training ground to learn the ins and outs of various casino games without the risk of losing money.

Lastly, always remember to play it safe when it comes to gambling. If you or someone you know is grappling with gambling issues, don't hesitate to reach out for help. Tennessee offers a range of resources to assist with problem gambling.

The history

The narrative of gambling in Tennessee is one of gradual acceptance and expansion. The state, traditionally known for its conservative approach to gambling, has slowly but surely embraced various forms of wagering over time.

The initial breakthrough in legal gambling came in 2002 when Tennessee voters gave the green light to Amendment 1, paving the way for the Tennessee Education Lottery. The lottery came into existence in 2004, offering a range of games and joining the Multi-state Lottery Association, enabling residents to partake in national games like Mega Millions and Powerball.

In 2006, Tennessee was among the first states to legalize daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests. This decision allowed most DFS operators to welcome entries from players residing in the Volunteer State.

The most recent and notable milestone in Tennessee's gambling timeline occurred on November 1, 2020. On this day, legal online sportsbooks took their inaugural wagers in the state. This event was historic as Tennessee joined the exclusive club of states permitting online-only sports betting.

Despite these strides, Tennessee's gambling industry is still in its early stages compared to other regions. The state has yet to establish any physical casinos, and online casino games are still prohibited. However, the recent progress indicates that the state's gambling environment is continually evolving, and the current state of affairs may not remain static for long.


The future

The future of gambling in Tennessee is a fascinating subject, ripe with possibilities. The state's traditionally conservative views on gambling have been challenged by the recent legalization of online sports betting, indicating a potential shift in perspective that could lead to further advancements.

One potential area of expansion is the casino sector. While Tennessee currently lacks any physical casinos, the success of online sports betting could spark conversations about the introduction of land-based casinos or even online casino games. Such a move would significantly bolster the state's economy and provide Tennesseans with more legal gambling options.

Another prospective area of growth lies in the further development of online sports betting. As this sector continues to flourish, we might see the emergence of additional sportsbooks, heightened competition, and possibly the inclusion of a broader range of sports and betting options.

While it's challenging to forecast the exact trajectory of Tennessee's gambling future, it's evident that the state's gambling landscape is in a state of flux. As perceptions towards gambling continue to evolve and the potential economic advantages become increasingly clear, we could witness even more transformative changes in the coming years.

Responsible gaming in Tennessee

Responsible gaming is a cornerstone of Tennessee's approach to its evolving gambling scene. The state has rolled out several measures to ensure that gambling remains a source of fun, not a cause for concern.

A key initiative in the state is the Problem Gambling Prevention and Treatment Services Program. This all-encompassing program is designed to boost awareness about problem gambling among those at risk, their loved ones, and the broader community. It also offers outpatient treatment services for those dealing with problem gambling and continually evaluates regional needs to coordinate outreach activities.

For those wrestling with a gambling problem, Tennessee has set up the REDLINE, a round-the-clock hotline that offers referrals for individuals and families seeking assistance with problem gambling and gambling addiction.

Additionally, online sports betting operators in Tennessee are required to manage their own list of self-excluded gamblers and to share that list with other sportsbooks. This self-exclusion list is a vital tool for individuals who recognize their problem and want to prevent further gambling activities.

These measures highlight Tennessee's dedication to promoting responsible gambling and ensuring that the necessary support and resources are available for those who may need them.


What's the current legal landscape for online gambling in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, the legal framework for online gambling is currently limited to online sports betting. The state gave its approval for online sports betting in 2019, and the first sportsbooks began operations in 2020. Other forms of online gambling, including online casinos and online poker, are not permitted under Tennessee law.

How does Tennessee manage and control online gambling sites?

The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation is tasked with regulating online sports betting sites in Tennessee. The corporation's role includes issuing licenses to operators, ensuring adherence to state laws, and monitoring the operation of online sportsbooks.

Is it permissible to use a VPN for online gambling in Tennessee?

Using a VPN for online gambling in Tennessee is generally discouraged. Online sportsbooks in the state use geolocation technology to confirm that all bets are placed within Tennessee. Using a VPN to alter your location could breach the sportsbook's terms of service and may result in your account being suspended or closed.

Do any legal online casinos operate in Tennessee?

At present, there are no legal online casinos in Tennessee. The state's gambling laws currently allow only for online sports betting. While there has been some discussion about expanding online gambling to include casino games, no such legislation has been passed to date.

Katarina Oakshore
Editor | Casinos and Gambling