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Montana Lottery Sports Betting Draft Rules Open for Public Comment

A public hearing on the draft regulations for Montana Lottery’s sports wagering plans received a few mixed comments from residents in attendance during the Oct. 28 meeting.

One aspect of the Treasure State’s sports betting law ties sports gambling and liquor licenses together. Liquor licenses are distributed based on population.

According to Montana Lottery’s website, limiting sports wagering to locations with liquor licenses “will ensure a sufficient number of locations to offer sports wagering and help limit any adverse impacts of an overabundance of locations,” .

That aspect of the draft drew an objection from a Billings investment group, who said the gambling/liquor license tie-in is not included in the recently passed sports betting legislation. A spokesman said the group would file a lawsuit if the regulation is not revised.

On the other end of the spectrum, a representative of the Montana Tavern Association spoke in favor of the draft proposal, stating that legislators planned from the start to distribute sports wagering licenses in the manner the draft currently explains.

The draft proposal also details how sports bettors will be able to wager in Big Sky Country, as well as licensing costs, taxes, retailer commissions and a number of other details.

The lottery commission will continue to accept public comments, ideas and information on the proposed sports betting rules through Monday, Nov. 4. Feedback can be submitted through Montana Lottery’s website contact form, as well as by mail, email, phone or fax.

The lottery is hoping to launch its sports wagering plans by the end of the year. The possibility of putting the draft to a vote is included on the commission’s Nov. 21 agenda.

Montana Legal Sports Wagering Background

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed one bill that would have opened sports betting to private operators earlier this year, and signed another that granted a monopoly to the Montana Lottery on May 6.

The bill designated the Montana Department of Justice as the developer of the state’s sports betting regulations. A draft of the rules was published on the Montana Secretary of State’s website and is accessible from the lottery’s website.

The state’s Administrative Procedure Act gives residents the right to participate in the government policy-making process. Drafts of new regulations are required to be published for a minimum of 30 days to allow the public to review documents and offer feedback.

House Bill No. 725 set the sports wagering tax rate at 8.5 percent and the cost of a permit fee at $1,000. If Montana’s 1,400 establishments with current liquor licenses apply for sports wagering certification, the cumulative licensure revenue for the lottery would be $70,000.

Montana Lottery Draft Proposal for Bettors

Under the proposed regulations, bettors who wish to place wagers in the State of Montana would have to register for a sports gambling account with the Montana Lottery online. Player’s accounts would be managed completely online.

Vendors that receive sports gambling licenses will be supplied with Montana Lottery sports betting kiosks. Sports wagers can only be made on these kiosks. There will be no retail sportbooks. Online and mobile sports betting is not legal.

There is one exception to online wagering.

Montana Lottery will have a sports betting website and mobile app to register and manage player accounts. and for bettors to plan what wagers they’d like to place the next time they visit a sports betting kiosk. Available online information will include upcoming games, lines, stats and additional data.

Bettors can use the website and app from any location but no bets can be placed on the site – unless the app is in range of a Montana Lottery kiosk and able to communicate directly with the lottery’s system through the kiosk.

Bettors must be 18 years of age. Winnings of less than $600 can be claimed from vendors, while winnings of $600 or more must be claimed through a Montana Lottery office.

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