Tennessee Bill Would Repeal Criminality Of Owning A Vintage Slot Machine

It’s quite amazing that Tennessee has legal and regulated online/mobile sportsbooks already. The state historically has been staunchly against gambling.

One example of this is a law against owning vintage slot machines that you might find at a yard sale or flea market. However, a bill on the table would change that.

House Bill No. 52 of the 2021 legislative session would relax the rules against owning such a device.

According to the bill, an “antique coin machine” would be defined as a “gambling device or record that is twenty-five or more years old and that is operated, played, worked, manipulated, or used by inserting or depositing a coin, slug, token, or thing of value to play a game, see pictures, hear music, or provide any other form of entertainment and includes, but is not limited to, antique slot machines, antique gambling devices, or antique gaming machines.”

The bill would make it so that it is not an offense “for a person to own, possess, buy, or sell an antique coin machine if the antique coin machine is not used for gambling purposes.”

Furthermore, the bill would require a person selling such a device to “indicate to all prospective buyers that the antique coin machine is not to be used for gambling purposes.”

Under current law, possessing one of these devices can result in a Class B misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to $500. The statute has been commonly applied to cases involving illegal gambling dens in the state.

A carve-out for the so-called antique coin machines has been pitched before but failed to gain traction in the legislature. Tennessee has neither casinos nor racinos, be they commercial or tribal.

The state has a lottery and sports betting.