In addition to recently passing a bill legalizing online sports betting, the Tennessee Legislature recently codified the time-honored tradition of friendly office wagering through fantasy sports leagues and NCAA Tournament pools. On March 28, 2019, the Tennessee Legislature passed the “March Madness and Fantasy Football Freedom Act.” The Act became effective July 1, 2019 and allows Tennesseans to participate in “low-level sports entertainment pool[s].” Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-501. According to the Act, a “low-level sports entertainment pool” is a pool where the participant makes selections based on the participant’s predictions of either the outcome of a series of athletic contests of the same sport (like filling out a March Madness bracket) or the statistics of individual athletes selected by the participant to assemble an imaginary team of athletes (like participating in a fantasy sports league). Id.
A participant, however, cannot place more than $25 into the pool, and the pool itself cannot exceed $1,000. Id. Moreover, the pool must be “managed by an individual and not by any type of business entity.” Id.
The Tennessee Legislature was able to pass this friendly form of gambling because, in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) as unconstitutional. 138 S.Ct. 1461 (U.S. 2018). Prior to Murphy, PASPA allowed sports gambling only in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Oregon. 28 U.S.C. § 3704. In passing this legislation, and legislation related to online sports betting, Tennessee joins an increasing number of states that have legalized certain forms of sports gambling.