- Lottery (2002)
- $323 million
- $930 million
- Tennessee permits smoking anywhere minors are not permitted
- There are no forms of legalized online gambling in Tennessee
There are no Tennessee casinos or gambling other than the state lottery. Charities may not hold bingo games but may spread low limit raffles for prizes but not cash. That is the only other form of gambling if you can call it that. There are, however, many event centers that will provide transport to casinos within nearby states.
Tennessee is a very conservative state. It was the 48th state to legalize some form of gambling when voters approved a constitutional amendment to create a lottery in November 2002. Players looking for casino action on the west side of the state will need to go to Tunica, MS. Those on the east side of the state are within a couple of hours of one of the Harrah’s casinos in North Carolina. Nashville residents will need to drive north to Indiana, Ohio or Illinois.
There is no horse racing in Tennessee. Kentucky fills that void just to the north with live and off-track betting on horses. There are also instant racing machines at some Kentucky tracks. Below you will find a guide of Tennessee casino event centers that take gamblers to casinos in other states.
Paying Gambling Taxes in Tennessee
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Type of Online Tennessee Gambling Allowed
There are no forms of legal online gambling in Tennessee. Daily fantasy sports sites operate in the state. The companies claim to fall under skill gaming exemptions. State law seems to contradict that, according to experienced gaming lawyers. The state legislature is looking to create a committee of nine members to investigate how to regulate the daily fantasy sports industry. In the meantime, sites like DraftKings, FanDuel, and CBS Sports accept players from the state.
Types of Live Tennessee Gambling
- Casino Games: No
- Horses: No
- Lottery: Yes
The only form of legalized Tennessee gambling is a state lottery. Scratch-off and lotto tickets may be sold. This includes state drawings like Cash 3 and Cash 4, as well as interstate lottos like Mega Millions and Powerball.
There are three casino cities near Tennessee state lines. Tunica County, Mississippi has resort-style casinos with a full slate of games that include slots, video poker, live poker and table games. West Memphis, Arkansas has the same selection of games except that the poker room is digital. Harrah’s Cherokee is just east in North Carolina. Its two resorts offer slots, video poker, a digital poker room and table games.
Any resident of Tennessee that wants to play at these casinos can simply drive out to them. There are also Tennessee casinos services that transport players to and from these locations in neighboring states. For a small fee, players will get taken to these casinos that lie right on the Tennessee border.
Tennessee Gambling Laws
Tennessee gambling in virtually all forms is banned. Tennessee gambling is defined as a game where money is risked where there is any degree contingent on chance. This is why daily fantasy sports experts think that those games are illegal in Tennessee. Most gambling crimes are misdemeanors.
The only game of chance legal in Tennessee is a lottery but only if it is operated by the state. Lottery players must be at least 18 years of age. The Tennessee Lottery may only offer instant scratch-offs and lotto games. Tickets may not be sold over the Internet.
Tennessee is one of just three states where charitable bingo is illegal. Utah and Hawaii are the other two states. Charities may hold an annual function with prizes held through raffles or a similar procedure. The annual event may not raise more than $5,000.
List of Tennessee Casinos
As there are no Tennessee casinos within the state border, players must look elsewhere to bet on regular casino games. However, the only places in Tennessee to gamble are the thousands of convenience stores that sell lottery tickets. Horse racing enthusiasts can travel to neighboring Kentucky for live and off-track action. Tennessee casino gamblers can go to Arkansas, Mississippi, or North Carolina.
History of Tennessee Gambling
Bingo is illegal today in Tennessee, even for charities. It is one of just three states to do not permit it. That was not always the case.
Operation Rocky Top was an FBI sting that targeted the bingo industry. There were 300 bingo operations running in 1986 when a lawmaker approached the FBI saying he had been offered a bribe. State Rep. Randy McNally infiltrated the illegal bingo businesses that turned a game meant for charities into commercial operations. McNally was offered a $10,000 bribe to help push for horse racing in the state. In January 1989, the case was brought out in the open and indictments was unsealed. More than 50 people were convicted in Operation Rocky Top.
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled on March 1, 1989, that bingo should have been illegal all along. The court stated that bingo, even for charities, violated the constitutional ban on lotteries.
Tennessee Casinos & Gambling FAQ
Is there gambling in Tennessee?
The only form of legalized gambling is a state lottery.
What types of games are offered by the Tennessee Lottery?
Scratch-off and lotto tickets are sold. This includes interstate jackpot games like Mega Millions and Powerball.
Can you buy Tennessee Lottery tickets over the Internet?
State law does not permit the sale of lottery tickets over the Internet.
What is the minimum Tennessee gambling age?
Lottery players must be at least 18 years of age.
Are daily fantasy sports contests legal in Tennessee?
Many legal experts believe daily fantasy sports are illegal in Tennessee due to the “any chance” language in the state’s gambling law. This does not keep sites from operating in the state.
What daily fantasy sites accept Tennessee players?
FanDuel and DraftKings are the two major sites that accept players from Tennessee.
Are there casinos in Tennessee?
There are no casinos in Tennessee. For those residents that still want to gamble have to go to nearby states.
Where are the closest casinos to Memphis?
South Land Park in West Memphis is right across the Mississippi River from Memphis. It offers slots, video poker, table games and a poker room. There are several resort casinos about 45 minutes south of Memphis in Mississippi.
Where are the closest casinos to Knoxville and Chattanooga?
The closest casinos to Knoxville and Chattanooga are the pair of Harrah’s Cherokee casinos in western North Carolina.
Where is the closest casino to Nashville?
Tropicana Evansville in Indiana is the closest casino to Nashville.
Are online poker, casino and sports betting sites legal in Tennessee?
No. All of these sites are unlicensed and illegal in the state.