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Online Casinos in Tennessee


There’s no way around it: Tennessee has some of the strictest anti-gambling laws in the country. While the state stops short of the total ban seen in states like Utah and Hawaii, there is only a very limited amount of betting that takes place here, and even that has only come into place in recent years.

This means that in many cases, residents here must travel to neighboring states to get their fix of casino gaming, horse racing, or other forms of betting. Some also choose to play online instead, though they must do so on foreign websites, as the state does not run its own regulated Internet gambling market, unlike New Jersey which has successfully grown their industry.

Recent Changes Open Limited Market

Like most states in the USA, Tennessee began with a constitution that banned gambling. And, like much of the South, the state’s conservative nature made it difficult for this to change over the years. However, unlike others, Tennessee has largely held firmly to those roots, resisting most attempts to bring any form of gaming industry within our borders.

That means that there are no casinos here, and there have been no significant attempts to bring any in recent memory. Surprisingly, given our proximity to Kentucky, there is also no horse racing here: while the sport was once popular, parimutuel betting has been illegal for over a century now, effectively killing off the pastime.

The first crack in the gambling landscape came in 2002. That’s when the state’s General Assembly passed an amendment to the state constitution in order to put an educational lottery into place. Voters would later approve the change in a referendum, and by early 2004, the first tickets were being sold. Today, the state participates in Powerball and Mega Millions (among other multistate games), as well as running its own drawings. Interestingly, numbers for lottery games here aren’t drawn using balls, but rather with a random number generator.

The only other form of betting allowed in the state is charitable gaming, and even that is very limited in scope. Brought about in 2010 in response to flooding in the state, the rules allow qualified tax-exempt organizations to hold exactly one raffle each year, provided that they properly apply to do so. Even events that are usually allowed in other fairly conservative states, such as bingo nights, are considered illegal here.

Even Tennessee’s Native American tribes have not run any gambling operations. Back in 2008, the Attorney General’s office said that if any of the recognized tribes were also to gain federal recognition, they would be able to conduct such activities on their land thanks to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but so far, little-to-no action as taking place toward making this occur.

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Online Play Unlikely to Gain Traction

We’ve already made it clear that Tennessee has little interest in land-based gaming, so you’ve probably already guessed that the state would also pass on regulating Internet versions of these same games. Sure enough, there has been no movement towards online casino regulation, and in fact, there have been some politicians that have come out strongly against the industry. For instance, it was Senator Bill Frist who was one of the primary backers of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, the bill that ultimately helped the federal government crack down on PokerStars and the other major online poker sites that were processing payments through US banks.

Despite all of this negativity, however, many Tennesseans still play their favorite casino games over the Internet. However, our choice here is more limited than other US states. Generally speaking, Pragmatic Play slots and casinos are the most popular, though there are a few others available too. There are no laws that stop residents here from playing on these sites, so we can happily play on a variety of reputable and trustworthy casinos without any possible legal consequences. Just remember to play at safe sites only.

Few Changes Coming

If you live in Tennessee and are hoping to see more gambling expansion here, you might have to wait quite a long time. We’ve already seen that progress is very slow, and that there is little demand for expanding the current gaming options. The fact that a lottery and some charitable gaming have been added in just the last 15 years is a promising sign for players, but only in the vaguest sense – nothing dramatic seems likely to change in the next few years. If there is hope for growth, it would probably come from the Indian tribes, but that’s a long shot at best.

The prospects for online regulation are even grimmer. With only three states in the country having some form of virtual gambling, there’s no real pressure for others to follow suit. We would guess that land-based growth is necessary before the Internet will even be considered as an opportunity here, and with no signs that brick-and-mortar gaming is about to take off, we believe it will be a long time before Tennessee could even be considered a possibility for online gambling regulation.


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