The state of Montana was the first one to legalize sports betting in 2019, but it doesn’t appear that anything is going to come of it until the year 2020. Montana had originally hoped to launch sports betting before the start of the 2019 NFL season, but things have not gone according to plan.
Now, it appears that betting on sports won’t become legalized at any point during the current NFL season, and there are several new questions that will have to be answered in Montana.
Angela Wong, Montana’s Lottery Director, announced last week that launching sports betting has taken a lot longer than expected. The reason for the delay is that new rules and regulations must be finalized, and that process is just beginning.
The residents of Montana will have their chance to make public comments on the new regulations before they are voted on and approved by the government. The state lottery is in charge of overseeing this entire process, and they just don’t have the manpower or time to get things done by the end of the year.
What’s The Holdup?
The biggest reason for the delay has been that some lawmakers are not comfortable with the current contracts that are in place. The Montana Lottery currently has a contract with IntraLot, which runs the current gaming scene in the state.
The Montana Lottery was planning on allowing IntraLot to take over the sports betting scene, but there has been plenty of opposition to that of late. IntraLot was planning on putting up betting kiosks in retail locations to accept bets, but that’s not good enough for some leaders in the state.
The Gaming Industry Association of Montana is afraid of facing a lawsuit if there isn’t a different process to choose who will control sports betting.
If the state of Montana decided to honor its contract with IntraLot and allow it to operate the sports betting business, then there is a chance that things could get up and running at some point by the end of the year. If the contract with IntraLot is thrown out and opened back up to outside companies, there is a good chance that it could take up to a year to choose the new sportsbook content provider.
IntraLot is arguing that there was room in its current agreement to add on some new responsibilities, but its biggest competitors are hoping that the contract gets thrown out. Montana would likely make more money by opening the sports betting bid back up, as several major companies would love to get on board.
Montana wasted little time in legalizing sports betting this spring, beating a handful of other states to the punch. The beginning of May is when sports betting became legal in Montana, but little progress has been made since that time.
Montana is projecting that it will bring in over $3.7 million in the first year, and it is expecting over $65 million in bets during the first year. The longer this process continues to drag out, the more money that the state is missing out on.