Last updated: June 1, 2020
Status: A bill to allow sports betting in Montana was signed off by Governor Steve Bullock on May 3, 2019, making Montana the ninth state in the US to legalize sports betting.
ETA: Sports betting was launched in March 2020, although wagers cannot currently be made online. This made Montana the 17th state to legalise sports betting.
Sport betting was made legal in March 2020
The first bills gained traction when Montana’s 2019 legislative session began on January 7, 2019. This was the first time the state legislature had met since the Supreme Court ruled that that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act violated the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution.
House Bill 725 was one of three proposals considered by the governor but the only one signed into law. Senate Bill 330, which proposed to open the wagering market to private companies, also made it to the governor’s desk, but was vetoed at the final hurdle.
Intralot, the company that currently operates the Montana Lottery, will also operate all online, mobile and land-based sports betting services in the state. Details such as the cost of licenses and tax rates still need to be established, so the full picture is not yet clear.
Gambling was rife in Montana before the constitution was in place. Lottery-style games, in particular, were popular but with no one to regulate activities, laws were soon introduced to prohibit all forms of gambling.
In the period following the prohibition years, some table games were allowed and the first casinos were established. Slot machines also started appearing and were eventually legalized in the late 1940s. However, they were banned again just five years later.
Pari-mutuel betting on horse races and simulcast race betting on horse and greyhounds were legalized and became hugely popular in the 1970s and 80s.
In 1973, charitable gaming was legalized allowing fundraising groups to organise bingo, raffles and sports pools games with all profits going to sponsored causes.
In 1985, video poker machines were legalized and put up for license with nearly three thousand licences being issued in the first year. The following year, the state lottery was approved by a public vote.
Montana was one of only four US States not included in the 1992 Federal sports betting ban. Despite this, they have never allowed sports betting and only acted as a result of the new ruling.
In 1994, negotiations with the state’s four Indian tribal governments (Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Fort Peck and Rocky Boy) began. The first tribal casinos were established soon after.
Yes, as of March 2020.
Sports betting in Montana is organised by Intralot. The Athens-based lottery giant currently controls the state lottery.
The state currently imposes a minimum gambling age of 18 years of age.
Currently, there are 1,400 licensed gambling operators in the state.
No operators currently offer legal sports betting in the state but they will soon be free to do so. Interlot are yet to launch their sports betting product
Mobile betting was also included in the sports betting bill. This is likely to launch any time soon.
Officials have estimated that $65 million could be wagered in the first year alone, producing revenue of around $3.7 million for the state.
The tax rate for the HB 725 bill has yet to be confirmed. However, a figure of between 8.5% and 10% is expected.
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