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Tennessee Poker Laws

Tennessee Online PokerTennessee is one of the many states that the legality of playing poker online falls into a gray area. We couldn’t find any specific laws against playing poker online, but as with most laws you could make an argument either way. What we do know for sure is that people from Tennessee love to play poker online. It is a thriving market since Tennessee does not have any poker rooms in the state. Most residents that want to play live poker travel to Tunica, MS which is not far from Memphis, TN.

Can Players From Tennessee Play Poker Online?

Yes! Online poker is thriving in Tennessee. The ability to play real money poker games from the comfort of your own home is very appealing to a lot of residents in Tennessee. All US facing poker sites accept players from Tennessee so there are a lot of options for online poker play.

If you are interested in playing poker online, but you don’t know which site to choose, we have partnered with the best poker sites in the industry. These sites are trusted sites that have a history of integrity and paying their players in a timely manner.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Tennessee?

Tennessee has a lot of laws pertaining to gambling, but none of the laws specifically mention online gambling or online poker. This leaves a lot of questions up in the air when it comes to the legality of playing poker online. We cannot tell you if it is legal or illegal to play poker online in Tennessee, but we have found some laws that pertain to gambling in Tennessee that could possibly pertain to online poker. You can see these laws below:

  • Tennessee laws define gambling as: Gambling means risking anything of value for a profit whose return is to any degree contingent on chance or any games of chance associated with casinos including but not limited to slot machines, roulette wheels and the like. (39-17-501)
  • Charitable gambling is legal in the state of Tennessee.
  • Gambling device is defined as: “Gambling device or record” means anything designed for use in gambling, intended for use in gambling, or used for gambling. This definition could possibly include computers, phones, and tablets that are used for playing online.
  • Possession of a gambling device or record is a Class B misdemeanor. (39-17-505(c)). [1]
  • It is considered a misdemeanor to knowingly gamble illegally in Tennessee.
  • Home poker games are considered illegal, and they are raided often.

Tennessee is a very strict state when it comes to gambling illegally. This state makes several raids on illegal poker rooms and home poker games every year. We highly suggest that you consult an attorney if you are concerned about the legality of playing poker online in Tennessee. As far as we can tell if you are charged for playing poker online, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, but we are not experts on the laws of Tennessee. Our understanding of the law is a lay persons understanding. We have no legal degree, and we do not wish to give advice on the legality of playing poker online.

Tennessee Gambling History

Tennessee, like most states, has a rich history when it comes to gambling. Gambling houses and poker in saloons were common from the 1700s all the way up through the mid- 1900s. New government officials were against gambling, and they set out to make it illegal and succeeded.

There were many years when the only legalized gambling in the state consisted of wagering at the tracks, but the tracks had no races going on so the residents of Tennessee didn’t even have that luxury. That all changed in November, 2002 when Tennessee voters approved the state lottery. It took over a year before tickets were actually sold, but finally in January, 2004 the people of Tennessee could play the state lottery.

The state lottery consists of several games included scratch of tickets, multi-state lottery tickets, and in-state lottery. The lottery has raised more than $3 billion in money for education programs in the state. [2]

Tennessee resident Chris Moneymaker is known for starting the online poker boom. He won the WSOP in 2003. He won his entry to the tournament by winning a $39 satellite tournament online. After people heard this story, the online poker market boomed in the United States. [3]

It’s interesting that the online poker boom started because of a player in Tennessee, and it also became more difficult because of a senator from Tennessee. Senator Bill Frist from Tennessee was one of the main endorses of the UIGEA in 2006 which made it illegal for US banks to authorize payments to online gambling sites. This made it very difficult for players from the US to deposit funds into online poker sites, but it definitely didn’t make it impossible.

Legalized Gambling Options in Tennessee

Unfortunately, there are very few legal options for gambling in the state of Tennessee. The lottery is the only year round option. There are some charity gambling opportunities sporadically throughout the year, but these are the only options. Luckily, Tennessee borders several states that do have casinos. Tunica, MS is a very popular destination for many gamblers from the state of Tennessee.

Will Tennessee Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

Tennessee frowns upon almost all forms of gambling, and it is unlikely that they will legalize online poker any time in the near future. The state is very opposed to gambling. This is one of the states that I would say will probably opt-out of any federal legislation to legalize online gambling, but I could be wrong. We will just have to wait and see how it plays out.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Tennessee Gambling Laws
  2. Jump up ^ Tennessee Lottery
  3. Jump up ^ Chris Moneymaker Wins WSOP
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