Can I Bet On The US Presidential Election In Tennessee?

Posted By Derek Helling on November 2, 2020 - Last Updated on November 24, 2020

If you’ve been “Biden” your time waiting for the launch of legal sportsbooks in Tennessee so you can wager on the 2020 US Presidential Election, you’ll be disappointed. Betting on elections in the state, and in the US, remains illegal.

None of the legal sportsbooks that launched in TN will take your bet on any US elections. It’s also illegal to place such a bet at an offshore sportsbook offering that action.

One alternative is through Election Pools, however, where you can play for free but potentially win big money. Here are some examples:

FanDuel’s Bet The Ballot

Predict the 2020 US Election for a free shot at $50,000. Some examples of the questions you will be asked are “Who will win the popular vote?” and “Will Donald Trump win at least one state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016?”

Sign up for FanDuel’s Bet The Ballot by going here.

DraftKings’ Election Before the Election

DraftKings Sportsbook is running an Election Before the Election Pool with up to $100,000 in prizes. You will have to answer questions like, “Who will win the US Presidential Election – Joe Biden or Donald Trump?” and “Who will win Florida – Biden or Trump?”

Sign up for DraftKings’ Election Before the Election Pool by going here.

Tennessee election betting is illegal under state law

The reason why licensed sportsbook operators in the Volunteer State can’t take action on US elections is simple. It’s not on the list of allowable events as designated by the TN Lottery.

It’s unlikely that will change anytime soon, either. No other jurisdiction with legal sportsbooks in the US currently allows elections wagering.

The dominant concern is that allowing such betting would compromise the integrity of elections. However, since it’s never really been done within a regulated system in this country, it’s hard to know for sure if that would be the case.

It’s more likely that US books might post markets on elections in other countries someday. Books in the United Kingdom, for example, allow people there to wager on US elections.

Which brings up the next relevant point in this discussion. Just the fact that you can find these markets at offshore sports betting websites doesn’t mean it’s legal to wager on them in TN.

It’s illegal to wager on elections at an offshore sportsbook, too

Just like with any other event, federal and state laws prohibit betting with offshore sportsbooks on elections. The reasons why are quite simple.

The Federal Wire Act of 1961 prohibits transferring information and/or money for gambling purposes across state lines. As far as state law goes, it’s a violation to wager with any book that the TN Lottery hasn’t given a license to.

Betting at an offshore site checks both of those boxes simultaneously. Although the actual odds of prosecution are low, there’s no guarantee that will remain the case.

As seen above – FanDuel, DraftKings and other gambling companies are advertising pools for the upcoming US presidential election. Those are legal to play in Tennessee.

Why are election pools legal to participate in, then?

The big difference between election pools and wagering on election results is the cost. The legal election pools technically don’t fit the definition of gambling even though you can win real prizes by playing them.

That’s simply because they’re free to play. A bet on the election, on the other hand, would require you to stake some cash. That’s the reason why you can legally participate in these pools in nearly every state.

That can make these pools actually more fun to play. There’s no chance of you losing some of your hard-earned money if you should make an incorrect prediction.

For the foreseeable future, these pools are the only way to win some prizes using your political savvy. Because of the importance of the elections, this may be one status quo that should remain.

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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.

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