Tennessee has really laid down the law when it comes to gambling and it is one of the few states in the country that does not allow any form of gambling. The penal code is crystal clear and when looking at section 39-17-501 you see that is says, “Gambling is contrary to the public policy of this state and 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…” Many may argue that poker is a game of skill and therefore exempt from this law but Tennessee has that covered too and the penal code continues with, “The commission intends to include any scheme by which value is risked upon a chance for greater value as a “gambling” offense. The definition of “gambling” includes lotteries, chain or pyramid clubs, numbers, pinball, poker or any as yet unnamed scheme where value is risked for profit.” Poker is in fact mentioned in the penal code so that argument is invalid. There is no mention of online poker at all in the penal code and many poker players jump online regularly and play at such sites as BetOnline Poker. Keep on reading to see the full extent of how the law affects you when playing poker in Tennessee.
Playing Home Games in Tennessee
Many states have laws similar to Tennessee but do make exceptions for home and social games as long as they are in a private residence, all players are above the legal age and the game is not being held for profit. This is not however the case here, and there are absolutely no exceptions. Even participating in the game and not hosting it you are guilty of a misdemeanor. The penalty should you be caught and charged is of course a small one at a $50 fine and the risk is totally up to you. We are not sure how strongly the laws apply to home games or whether they are in place to stop organized illegal gambling, and maybe a call to your local law enforcement agency is worth making and testing the water if you should want to host or play in a home game of poker.
Playing Online Poker in Tennessee
There is no mention of Online Poker or any form of internet gambling within the penal code of Tennessee. The strict rules that apply to home games could of course be taken into consideration but at present there is absolutely no way that the state could check or find out if you were playing online poker. Setting up an online poker operation within the states borders would of course be out of the question, but we don't think many of you have that in mind. What we do know is that there are many online poker players within the state and they are more than welcomed at rooms such as Americas Cardroom, BetOnline Poker and Carbon Poker. It's also worth taking into consideration that at present there are no federal laws against playing online poker and nor are there likely to be in the near future. It is in fact already legal in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware and many other states are considering this change.
Playing Poker in a Tennessee Casino
This is a 100% non starter as there are no casinos in Tennessee. There is not even a single horse racing track with the most basic games. It's one of the few states without any form of legalized gambling along with Hawaii and Utah. You will simply not get a legal game of poker in a casino or card room anywhere in the state.