5 Rules You Need To Know When Legal Tennessee Sports Betting Starts

Posted By Derek Helling on October 28, 2020 - Last Updated on November 24, 2020
Tennessee sports betting rules laws

Legal sports betting in Tennessee has finally arrived, but before you get started wagering in the Volunteer State – you need to know the rules.

The rules are pretty standard compared to protocols in other legal sports betting states, so there’s no reason to be concerned if you’ve placed legal bets in other places. The first of these five does represent what makes Tennessee unique, however.

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Legal Tennessee sports betting is all digital

Legal wagering in Tennessee is essentially the opposite of legal betting in places like Arkansas and New York. There, you can only wager at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks inside casinos.

In the land of Dollywood and Pat Summitt, however, you can only wager online. There are no physical casinos, off-track betting sites, or racetracks in TN where you can bet on sports. In addition, the law does not allow for retail wagering on sporting events.

So if you want to place a legal bet on the Tennessee Titans or Volunteers from just outside their stadiums, you’ll have to use a computer, smartphone, or tablet with Internet connectivity.

It’s important to note, as well, that despite the online-only framework, offshore betting sites are not legal. The sportsbook must be registered with the Tennessee Lottery for it to accept bets legally from people in TN.

The next important part has to do with location.

Geolocation and minimum age requirements in Tennessee

For residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia, this is great news. In all of those states, at least for now, there are no legal online sportsbooks.

In Mississippi, online wagering is restricted to geofenced locations of casinos’ properties, if available at all. As far as Tennessee goes, however, you can wager from anywhere within the state’s borders.

You do not have to be a legal resident of TN to place a bet. All that’s necessary for your eligibility is for you to be somewhere in the Volunteer State when you make your wager. You can drive across the border, do your business, then head home and hopefully watch your bet pay off.

You also have to be at least 21 years of age. The sportsbook app and/or website will ask for your date of birth when you register. Operators use verification services to check up on the information you provide, so it’s not simply a matter of back-dating yourself if you’re underage.

So – you’re of age, in the state, and you’ve got your smartphone ready. What else might you need to know? Well, the next important thing is how to access the licensed sportsbooks in Tennessee.

Making sure a sportsbook is registered with the Tennessee lottery

Not all operators who work within regulated markets are licensed to do so in the Volunteer State yet. As of right now, the lottery has only issued four licenses, and those belong to:

So if you’re a fan of BetRivers, PointsBet, Unibet, William Hill, etc., you’ll have to pick a second-favorite in TN. There is no cap to how many licenses the lottery can award, so those operators may enter the market at some point.

If you aren’t sure whether the book you’re looking at has a license in Tennessee, you can check the lottery’s website. The sportsbooks which have the appropriate licensure will also display that proudly.

If you’re on a computer, navigate your web browser of choice to the appropriate website for any of those books. There, you can register, make a deposit, and browse the markets.

On a smartphone or tablet which uses the Android operating system, you’ll need to visit the mobile website of the sportsbook as well. Google bans gambling apps from its marketplace. You may still be able to find Android apps on the sportsbooks’ websites, however.

On an iPad or iPhone, the process is easier. You can go to the App Store and search for the sportsbook you want to use. From there, you can download the app and get started.

In the course of browsing the markets on these apps, you might find that your options are limited when it comes to live bets for collegiate sporting events. There’s a good reason for that.

The law on college sports and legal Tennessee sports betting

The statute which governs sports betting in TN includes a restriction for college sports. Essentially, TN books can’t take in-game prop bets on college games.

So, for example, if you wanted to wager on how many yards the Vanderbilt Commodores will rush for in a specific quarter of a football game, you would be disappointed. This might prove of little importance, however, as sportsbooks in less restrictive jurisdictions don’t usually offer these types of markets anyway.

The logic behind this restriction is that it maintains the integrity of collegiate sporting events. Proponents also argued that it would protect athletes from abuse from disgruntled bettors.

Whether it actually achieves those ends remains to be seen.

There’s a final component of the market in TN that bettors should be aware of.

What’s this payout cap I’ve heard about and what does it mean?

Tennessee is the only state so far to cap how much its licensees can pay out to customers. TN sportsbooks mandate that operators hold at least 10% of handle.

It’s too early to tell exactly how this unique requirement will affect the market. Operators can face fines and a loss of their licenses if they don’t comply.

There are some potential ramifications. One is that books may push parlays because the vig on those wagers is higher than straight bets.

Another possibility is that operators may build extra vig into straight bets to ensure they stay compliant with the regulations. They will probably try to avoid that, however, as it harms their ability to compete.

For bettors, this means that shopping operators for the best odds could be even more important in TN.

Equally important is to stay aware of all of these five rules, so your legal Tennessee sports betting experience is optimal.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

View all posts by Derek Helling