Real Money DFS in Tennessee

Despite the lack of live gambling and historically restrictive stance, Tennessee was the 3rd state to explicitly legalize daily fantasy sports contests online. The Fantasy Sports Act was signed by governor Bill Haslam in April 2016. The licensing process was ready by the 1st of July that year. While DFS run in most states, this legal clarity was welcomed by both the DFS brands and those who enjoy the contests.

This page covers fantasy sports contests in Tennessee in depth. You’ll find out about the main websites in this space below. In addition, the details of the laws, types of DFS contest you can enter – and some beginner strategy tips are covered.

Overview: What are daily fantasy sports contests?

Fantasy sports is an old concept. In the pre-internet era, groups of friends, colleagues or family would pick athletes (for example in football) at the start of a season. The performances of these players through the season would then decide which line-up won, with these contests often awarding small, informal, prizes. There would also be opportunities to adjust line-ups at designated times.

What daily fantasy sports has done is shorten this type of contest. You still pick line-ups in the major leagues. They still compete against the line-ups picked by others. However, the time period is now between 1 day and 1 week. What is more, you can do it all on websites – allowing you to compete with others from around the country.

Instead of just private leagues, you can compete with others in a variety of ways. The basic distinction is between cash games (head-to-head or small contests) and tournaments (where you compete with potentially 1000’s of others for bigger prizes). Within each category there are different structures and ideas.

Types of DFS contest you can enter from Tennessee

It takes skill and sporting insight to build up a roster (line-up) of players within the specified salary caps. Therefore, it would be a shame only to use these once.

Cash games subsequently allow you to go head-to-head with as many other line-ups as you wish. Both players put in a stake and the winner gets the money (minus the entry fee). You can choose to put a single line-up against a lot of others – or make variations of your line ups and enter them instead.

There are pro DFS players out there. The sites let you avoid competing with too many pro line-ups, by specifying how many rosters from individual players you are willing to compete against on any specific occasion.

Tournaments have more variations. These include big guaranteed prize games, which can attract 1000’s of entries, to smaller (even private) leagues. Here are some of the popular DFS tournament variations that TN residents can access:

  • GPP DFS Tournaments: GPP simply stands for guaranteed prize pool. The biggest prize pools can be huge, attracting multiple line-ups from 1000’s of players. Prizes are usually awarded to the top 10% or so of line-ups, with the big money going to the winner and runners up. Smaller GPP tournaments are running all the time at the main DFS sites.
  • 50/50 DFS Tournaments: This format has lower volatility than the regular tournament format. Once again you could be competing against 1000’s of others, though this time half the field double their money (minus entry fee) while half get nothing. There are variations of this idea called ‘Multipliers’. These pay different proportions of the field – for example 20% get 5x or 33% get 3x their entry.
  • Private Leagues/Contests: You can create your own contests/tournaments at the major sites. These can be private, or you can open them up to the public. You’ll get to control the prizes and rules. This takes the old season-long ‘paper’ private games – and puts them online. Leagues can be season long, cover a single day – or a mix of both.
  • Qualifier Tournaments: Many DFS players would like to compete in the bigger buy-in guaranteed tournaments, but can’t justify the bankroll to do so. Qualifiers are the solution. Here you win entry into a bigger tournament instead of cash if your line-up does well.

There are more innovative and complex variations of these DFS contests depending on which site(s) you visit.

DFS Tennessee: Tips for new daily fantasy sports players

While deep knowledge of your sport and the form of individual players is a great starting point – there is more to DFS than just this. You’ll be competing against others who have experience in picking the types of line-up which do well in each category of contest. As with all forms of betting, you’ll need to focus on maximizing value – thinking as much about how to get an edge against other players as you do about the sports.

With all the major leagues (plus soccer) allowing line-ups, there are also sport-specific variations. These beginner DFS strategy tips are general enough to cover all the different sports in both cash game and tournament format.

  • Line-Up Salary Levels: Each of your line-ups will need to stay within a specific salary cap. This is needed, as otherwise everyone would pick the highest paid/rated players. A common guideline for DFS is that you should use up as much of your salary cap as possible. If you complete your line-up and still have a lot of salary unused, you are almost always putting yourself at a disadvantage. Once you gain experience with the contests, you’ll be in a better position to spot circumstances where this rule can be broken.
  • Variations on Your Line-Up: There is nothing to say you have to create a single line-up. In fact, experienced DFS players create a core line-up, then vary some players, creating multiple slightly different rosters. You then enter multiple contests (tournaments or cash games) with these, spreading the risk and giving yourself multiple chances.
  • Mix High and Low Variance Contests: With so many formats, you have the opportunity to mix higher and lower risk contests for any given match period. For example, big GPP tournaments pay huge prizes, though 90% of line-ups entered get nothing. The variance here is very high. By entering 50/50 or head to head cash games alongside, splitting your buy-ins to do so, you’ll naturally lower your overall risk – while still giving yourself at least one shot at the big bucks.
  • Beginner Contests: When you first register at sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, you’ll have 30 or so days to enter special beginner contests. These are great value, as the field will be inexperienced compared to the regular games. Take advantage of as many of these as you can.
  • Smart Bankroll Management: This refers to splitting your bankroll into small portions, so you don’t go broke before you have a chance to make a big score. All experienced gamblers have a system. However, the exact details will depend on your appetite for risk and ability to regularly reload your account.

DFS and sports betting in Tennessee: Legal background

In most states, DFS betting is in a legal limbo. While it is assumed to be legal – there is no explicit legislation authorizing it. A handful of states, including Hawaii, Alabama, Louisiana and Montana (and others) have banned DFS contests.

Tennessee were the 3rd state to legalize online daily fantasy sports contests – following Indiana and Virginia. This followed a negative opinion from the TN attorney general. From July 1st, 2016, DFS sites were licensed and taxed. Licensing cost $50,000 per year, with a 6% tax rate.

The major DFS sites welcomed this regulation – with both FanDuel and DraftKings issuing statements praising the clarity that the legislation brings for both players and operators.

Three years later, bill S 16 was signed into law. This set up a licensing and regulatory framework for mobile sports betting.

Now, Tennessee has expanded its sports betting profile. Mobile sports betting became legal in the state in May 2019, and the first online sportsbooks launched on Nov. 1, 2020.

Tennessee’s lack of physical betting locations has made it the first state to offer sports betting exclusively online. Both DraftKings and FanDuel have sportsbook apps live in the state.

Daily fantasy sports sites: An overview of the major players

More than 90 DFS games offered online are played on just 2 sites. While there is a long list of sites (including some innovative new operators) which offer these games, the critical mass of DraftKings and FanDuel put them so far about the competition that few players visit anywhere else.

Here is a list of the biggest players in the DFS space:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • Yahoo
  • Fantasy Draft
  • Draft Day
  • Daily Number

DraftKings Tennessee DFS overview

DraftKings are based in Boston, MA. They grew from a small site to dominate the DFS market. You can access this site via their mobile apps (for both Android an iOS) or responsive website. While DraftKings started some 5 years after their main rival FanDuel (2012 vs 2007), they have grown to dominate the DFS contests space. Both brands are now owned by global betting giant Paddy Power BetFair.

In addition to the domestic pro leagues, DFS contests at DraftKings cover soccer, golf, auto racing and MMA. There are now contests involving the growing eSports market too. Picks contests cover all the main formats. There are 1000’s of head-to-head (cash games) contests, along with tournaments, 50/50s, qualifiers and private leagues.

New players at DraftKings get in free play on their first deposit.

FanDuel Tennessee DFS overview

If you enjoy contests with huge guaranteed prize pools – then FanDuel is the DFS site to check out first. While these do attract a lot of pros and experienced players, the rewards are huge if you manage to get a winning (or high finishing) line-up.

FanDuel are based in New Jersey. They were the pioneers in bringing DFS contests online, starting back in 2007. This site covers the major leagues in a lot of depth, but does not have quite the same coverage of minor sports or international sports as rival site DraftKings. Additional to the major leagues are soccer and golf.

There is a players’ club at FanDuel which rewards regular players. This is in addition to the welcome bonus you’ll get with your first deposit.

A notable addition to the FanDuel apps and website is a flag showing how many experienced players have entered a contest. This allows you to choose contests with recreational type players – leveling the playing field and improving your chances of a win.

Wrapping up: Daily fantasy sports in Tennessee

Many southern states have banned daily fantasy sports, either explicitly or via an Attorney General opinion. Tennessee took a more practical approach. In 2016, DFS contests for real money were legalized. This included tax and licensing. The move was welcomed by the sites, including positive statements from the major operators DraftKings and FanDuel.

With Tennessee sports betting sites going live soon, the opportunities for betting will expand way beyond picking line-ups.

DFS includes both cash games and tournaments. With some huge guaranteed prize pools out there, picking the right roster can pay off well. If you prefer, then you can set up private leagues for your friends or colleagues – playing Fantasy Sports online in the same way that it has been enjoyed for many years.