Updated on January 18, 2020
As US sports betting spread across the country in 2019, Tennessee joined the line of falling dominos in May. Buoyed by the efforts of Montana and Indiana, the Volunteer State raised its collective hands and offered itself as the next sports betting hub.
Joining an ever-growing list that includes Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, Tennessee sportsbooks will now operate under a legal if slightly restrictive framework. As per the terms of Senate Bill 16 (SB16), sports betting will be lawful but there will be some clauses that make the conditions less attractive for operators and consumers.
In the bill approved by the Tennessee Legislator, regulated operators will have to pay a $750,000 licensing fee as well as 20% tax. On top of that, registered sports leagues, including the NFL, MLB and NBA, will be able to request certain amendments.
For consumers, the most notable clause in Tennessee’s sports betting bill relates to in-play wagers. Unlike other US sports betting states, live data will be supplied to vendors from “official” sources. In practice, this means in-play betting won’t be a free market. Although that won’t necessarily lead to worse odds, it does restrict the way live sports bets will be offered in Tennessee.
However, even with these less favorable conditions in place, Tennessee bookmakers now have a chance to thrive. Indeed, with the Legislator voting in favor of change in May 2019, local sports fans can now speculate on their favorite events in a safe and legal way.
Tennessee Sports Betting Timeline
How did Tennessee become a sports betting state? Well, after numerous debates, SB16 was finally given the green light in May 2019. However, before the state was added to America’s sports betting timeline, it had to jump through a number of important hoops.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is struck down by the Supreme Court in May 2018. This decision opened the door to legal intrastate sports betting.
By June 2018, various states had either legalized or started the process of voting on sports betting regulation. At this time, Tennessee hadn’t joined the discussions.
Seeing the positive changes happening across the US, Tennessee politicians began formulating an effort to regulate sportsbooks within the state. These moves started in the final months of 2018 before SB16 was formally introduced to the Senate in December.
On January 8, 2019, SB16 passed the First Consideration and started its journey through the legislative process.
Between March and April, the bill bounced back-and-forth between Senate subcommittees where it underwent a series of amendments. Eventually, by April 30, it took the place of it’s House Bill counterpart (HB1)and was put to a vote.
At the start of May, the House voted 58-37 in favor of the bill before it passed through the Senate by a margin of 20-12. The bill was then sent to Governor Bill Lee’s desk. Governor Lee long opposed the idea of sports betting in Tennessee but decided not to veto this piece of legislation. With both sides of the chamber approving the bill, sports betting in Tennessee became a reality.
Where Can I Bet on Sports in Tennessee?
Under the terms of SB16, Tennessee sports betting will be an online-only affair. This means that customers will be able to make single-way and multiway wagers via their desktops and mobile devices.
In-person registration is not required so as long as you are located within state lines and are using a licensed sports betting operator you will be able to put real-money down on a wide range of sporting events.
Tennessee Sports Betting FAQ
What is the legal sports betting age in Tennessee?
To bet on sports at Tennessee’s best sportsbooks, you have to at least 21-years-old.
What is the Tennessee sports betting tax rate?
As local sportsbooks generate revenue like other states, they’ll be subject to a tax rate of 20%. This is more than double the amount operators in states such as Indiana (9.5%) will have to pay.
Can I bet on sports online in Tennessee?
Yes. In fact, all legal Tennessee sportsbooks will be online as there are currently no provisions for land-based betting.
What is the current status of Tennessee Sports Betting?
The Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council finished a first-draft of rules in late November 2019. Those proposed rules went under a 30-day public comment period before they were sent to the Lottery Board for final approval.
However, the proposed rules received a slew of negative feedback due to a provision requiring Tennessee sports betting operators to keep a minimum of 15% of all wagers. This would limit the amount that sports bettors could win. Whether or not those rules stick has yet to be seen.
Once the Lottery approves the rules, companies hoping to operate online sportsbooks in Tennessee can submit applications. Look out for the first mobile sports betting apps in TN to launch in early 2020.