It took a constitutional amendment in 2002 to pave the way for the Tennessee Lottery.
This act was passed after a referendum, with nearly 60% of the population voting in favor. From a quiet start in 2004, the TN Lottery has grown significantly.
You can now join multi-jurisdictional draws like the Powerball, enjoy in-state jackpots or play instant games like keno and scratch-it cards.
The Tennessee Lottery primarily aims to raise money for education and other causes, which is under the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation (TELC). As you will see from the TELC website, it also has jurisdiction over online sports betting.
This page gives you a primer on the Tennessee Lottery. You’ll find information on the current in-state and multi-state draws below, plus information on some of the many instant-play games. Also, you will read about TELC’s charitable work.
First, let’s learn a little more on how the lottery games came to the Volunteer State.
Compared to many states, Tennessee was late to the party when it came to lottery games. The stumbling block was the state constitution, which was amended to blanket-ban all forms of gambling in 1835.
A constitutional amendment was required to allow lottery games.
In Tennessee, the only way to change the constitution is via a referendum, which took place in 2002. A total of 57.5% of voters said yes.
The TELC was created in 2003. In 2004, Tennessee’s first lottery draw took place. For the first three years, the TN Lottery used balls to draw the numbers; however, this changed in 2007 when the Lottery utilized the software for many draws. This random number generator (RNG) software is standard today.
Tennessee joined the Multi-State Lottery Association in 2004. The Powerball draw was the first multi-state game. Other multi-jurisdictional games include Hot Lotto and Cash 4 Life.
As well as the headline-grabbing, multi-state draws, a lot of draws take place in Tennessee only.
While players can buy tickets in advance, they can’t be purchased online. There are approximately 5,000 outlets selling lottery tickets.
The main jackpot game is called Tennessee Cash, which is on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The attraction of this game is that main prizes that aren’t won will roll over into the next draw. This rollover can create some big jackpots at times, with the prize pool regularly more than $1 million.
Playing Tennessee Cash is simple.
First, you choose five numbers between 1 and 35, plus a “cash ball” number. If you don’t win the big one by matching all the numbers, there are plenty of extra prizes for three or more matching numbers.
The Cash 3 and Cash 4 games take place every day and draw three- and four-digit numbers three times a day (except Sundays, which is once).
You choose three or four numbers from 1 to 9, and you get to decide whether you pay 50 cents or $1 per ticket.
The smaller stake needs the numbers to be drawn in the exact order you picked them. The top prize for these drawings is $5,000, with each draw televised on several local TV channels.
It is the multi-state draws that attract the media attention, especially when the jackpots get to staggering amounts of $100 million and more.
From the early days when it was only the Powerball, the number of games covering multiple states has grown significantly.
Here are the current big money games available in Tennessee:
The jackpots of the Powerball and Mega Millions are well-known to reach life-changing amounts. The Powerball announced it will also be expanding to three drawings a week in August 2021.
Meanwhile, the two smaller multi-state draws are also worth winning. The Cash 4 Life draw awards winners $1,000 per day for the rest of their life.
Likewise, Lotto America has prizes worth winning, with the jackpot regularly offering single-figure, million-dollar type prizes.
As the only way to enter the TN Lottery is by visiting a retail outlet; however, there is also a big market for scratch-it cards. Some of these offer huge prizes and have price tags of between $1 and $30 for each one. They come with a wide range of themes and some entertaining gameplay.
The list below shows some of the popular scratch-it cards from the Tennessee Lottery:
The other popular short-duration game is keno. These draws take place every few minutes, and do involve buying a ticket at a retail outlet. Like all keno games, you get to choose how many numbers to pick, and the number of matches then determines your prize.
Since the first drawing in 2004, the TN Lottery has raised $5 billion for good causes. You can find out details on the Tennessee Lottery website via a video.
A lot of this money has gone to providing scholarships for students, with green schools initiatives and after-school programs also big beneficiaries.
If you are in a Tennessee charity that is good standing by the secretary of state, there is an application form for funding available on the TN Lottery website.
Lottery games were one of the few legal forms of gambling in Tennessee.
The year 2019 ushered in legalized online sports betting, which has been an enormous success and generating $5 billion in tax revenues. This money targets education charities.
The main TN draw, Tennessee Cash, has a jackpot that grows when not won. This pool can reach significant money levels, though it does not compare with the biggest multi-state draws. Tennessee is part of the Multi-State Lottery Association and offers Powerball and Mega Millions draws (among others) for a chance to win big money.