Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Tennessee

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:

Tennessee has just passed a law that allows for licensing of sportsbooks in-state.  Currently, sports betting online is available in Tennessee via a few dozen offshore sportsbooks.

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The Offshore Books

Offshore betting companies the likes of Bookmaker have been around since 1986.  These companies over the years have assembled powerful legal teams that work with local governments to ensure what they are doing is legal.

A number of jurisdictions - Antigua, Costa Rica, Malta, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar - have become synonymous with online gambling, having set up successful hubs for the activity. 

Companies that operate from these Internet gambling hubs argue that, unless a state explicitly passes a law stating that online gambling is illegal, they have every right to access that market.  A World Trade Organization ruling supports this notion.

Some states disagree.

In May 2018 the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing sports betting nationwide.  Each state has the option of amending their own laws to allow for gambling expansion through sports betting.

Tennessee Sports Betting

Books operating from Tennessee should be online in time for the 2019 NFL season, though that might be pushing it.  Unlike the nearly dozen states that have legalized sports betting thus far, Tennessee will be the first to not offer retail establishments.  The activity will be done exclusively online. We would be remiss in not pointing out that Memphis has access to retail sportsbooks one hour south in Tunica, Mississippi.

Offshore sportsbooks should be able to remain competitive with the in-state operators, the later of whom will have some limits placed on them.

Tennessee-based sportsbooks will not be able to offer prop betting on college sports.  Tennessee has a stronghold in both the College Football and Basketball markets. 

The minimal age for placing a sports bet with a Tennessee-based sportsbook will be 21.  Offshore books allow those 18 and over to place bets.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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