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Tennessee Online Gambling Laws

We have developed this page of our guide to provide clarity and helpful information concerning the legality of gambling in the state of Tennessee. It will cover a variety of related topics, including those which pertain to Tennessee online gambling, which may include such venues as legal Tennessee online casinos, poker rooms, bingo halls, and sportsbooks. Land based gambling topics addressed include charitable gambling, home based poker games, state lottery options, and any other applicable gambling opportunities or bans for the state. We have spent the time and energy researching this area of gambling due to the lack of concise information available to players who are trying to understand what legal gambling opportunities are available to them. We hope that you find this portion of our guide beneficial to you and helpful in enabling you to make informed decisions concerning your participation in gambling either online or offline.

Gambling Definitions Per Tennessee Gambling Laws

Under Tennessee gambling law betting anything of value on anything that involves an element of chance, however minor, amounts to gambling. The law adopts an "any-chance" approach to defining gambling. The definition of gambling under Tennessee law also include games of chance associated with casinos including but not limited to roulette wheels, slot machines and the like. Participating in illegal gambling is a misdemeanor offense. However the law requires that the person charged with participating in illegal gambling knowingly do so.

Tennessee gambling law has a broad definition of gambling device or record. This broad definition allows law enforcement officers to confiscate the equipment used for illegal gambling and the money involved. The law also contain a charge known as aggravated gambling promotion. In most states participating in the business of illegal gambling is a misdemeanor charge but under Tennessee gambling law, knowingly investing in, financing, owning, controlling, supervising, managing or participating in a gambling enterprise is a felony offense.

Those involved with operation of lotteries, pyramid letters and chain letters can face additional penalties. The severity of charge will depend on the amount of money involved. It is class C misdemeanor offense when the amount involved is less than $50. When the amount involved is $50 or more and less than $250, it is a class B misdemeanor. When the amount is $250 or more but less than $10,000 it is a class A misdemeanor offense. Where the money involved is $10,000 or more, it is a class E felony.

History of Gambling in Tennessee

Way back in the late 1700s and early 1800 gambling was an important part of Tennessee culture. Poker and wagering games were immensely popular. There were many saloons and gambling houses across the state. In 1796 Tennessee officially became a state. Gambling continued to flourish until the 1900s when the people began to think differently about gambling. Gambling began to be frowned upon and soon all forms of gambling including charitable gambling were prohibited. Horse racing continued to remain legal but since the state could not fiscally manage the tracks, the tracks shut down and with the all wagering opportunities disappeared. In 1949 Estes Kefauver, a Tennessee resident became a United States Senator. He wanted to end organized crime and as part of the effort, he wanted the federal government to declare gambling illegal in Nevada. Although his effort failed, his home state of Tennessee soon rid itself of all forms of gambling.

Tennessee Charitable Gambling Laws

All forms of gambling were illegal in Tennessee until 1971 when the state legalized bingo as a form of charitable gambling. However in March 1989 the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that bingo is unconstitutional. All games including raffles were banned immediately after the judgement. A 2002 constitutional amendment allowed certain non-profit organizations to hold one fundraising gambling event in a year. Tennessee Charitable Gaming Implementation Law was passed as a result of the constitutional amendment. The same constitutional amendment also authorized the establishment of the state lottery. Cakewheels, cakewalks, raffles and reverse raffles can be offered as part of a charitable gambling event. Only organizations that are approved by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly each year can conduct charitable gambling events. Bingo players who are interested in playing bingo in a non-charity venue have access to several Tennessee online bingo halls which are licensed, regulated and located outside of the United States.

What Does Tennessee Gambling Law Say About Online Gambling?

Tennessee gambling law does not specifically address the issue of online casino gambling or online poker. However betting anything of value on anything that involves an element of chance is considered as gambling. All forms of gambling unless specifically authorized by law are illegal in Tennessee. It is currently not legal to operate any type of online gambling site within the state of Tennessee. Players interested in participating in online gambling should steer clear of any type of online gambling operation which is located inside of the state. There are however multiple Tennessee online sports betting sites, casinos, poker rooms and bingo halls which accept players from Tennessee, and the USA in general. These sites are licensed and located outside of the United States within governing jurisdictions which have legalized and which regulate online gambling for their respective territories. There are no state or federal laws which prohibit participating in online gambling at these types of legally licensed and regulated gambling sites.

Do Tennessee Poker Gambling Laws Allow Poker Games With Tennessee Borders?

The law does not specifically authorize home or social games of poker. Playing poker at home with family members can run afoul of Tennessee gambling law. It is probably clear to you now that the state of Tennessee is not a gambling-friendly location for poker players or any type of gamblers. While it is currently illegal to operate an online poker room within the state of TN, there are a number of legally licensed, regulated and compliance certified online poker sites which are located outside of the United States, and that accept players from Tennessee and the United States in general. These Tennessee online poker sites offer a safe and legal poker gambling option for residents and visitors to the Volunteer State.

Do Tennessee Gamblers Have Access To A State Lottery?

Tennessee state lottery was established in 2003 after the constitutional amendment in 2002. Tennessee is one of the last states to establish the state lottery. In January 2004 the lottery began selling instant tickets. It is a member of the multi state lottery association.

Are There Any Land Based Casino Gambling Options in Tennessee?

There are no land based casinos including tribal casinos in Tennessee. Even after the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed by the Congress in 1988, the state of Tennessee has not negotiated compacts with any Indian tribe to set up a tribal casino in the state.

Tennessee has always taken a tough stance against gambling. In fact Senator Bill Frist from Tennessee was one of the people responsible for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. This law however does not prevent or prohibit USA players from participating in legally licensed and regulated online gambling. It was put in place to regulate how online gambling transactions can be processed and to protect players and operators from fraudulent and dangerous financial practices. The results have been a safer and more secure payment platform for the US market as it relates to online gambling.

Tennessee Gambling Laws

The content you find on this page is intended to serve as informational only. We do claim to be lawyers, nor are we trained or certified to provide any type of legal services. If you are seeking any type of legal services, advice or professional interpretation of any law or statute, we suggest you contact an attorney.

Players who are interested in reviewing the Tennessee gambling laws and statutes in their entirety and in their original context can access the official documents by visiting the Tennessee Code Official Website.