Updated on March 13, 2020
The downfall of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has given rise to sweeping changes across the US. In the months following the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling, seven states implemented their own sports betting laws. With the winds of change blowing, New Mexico’s tribal entities joined the party before a period of calm.
Heading into 2019, a handful of states were weighing up their options before Montana broke the stalemate. Becoming the first region to legalize sports betting in 2019, the Treasure State has since opened the door to retail and online sportsbooks. In passing House Bill 725 (HB725), Montana’s legislators have handed control of the industry to the state lottery.
Soon, Montana sports bettors will be able to make single and multiway wagers on thousands of events, safe in the knowledge that everything is being overseen by an official state entity.
Montana Sports Betting Timeline
How did legal sports betting in Montana become a reality? Even though it was later to the party than the likes of New Jersey and Nevada, Montana’s entry to the US sports betting sector didn’t take long.
2018: Montana Sports Betting Bills Drafted
In the final month of 2018, three draft requests were processed. Seeing the success other states were having, Montana’s political figures were eager to explore the potential of state-sanctioned sports betting. In December, HB725, HB475, and SB330 were born.
2019: Montana Sportsbooks Become a Reality
With requests submitted in late 2018, the aforementioned bills were reviewed in February 2019 before initial drafts were written up.
By March, the bills had been moved around their respective chambers for discussions and edits. By the end of the month, they’d been formally submitted for discussion and voting.
In April, the bills were voted on across the Montana House and Senate. Amendments were made before subsequent votes took place. While S330 and HB725 made it through, HB475 died. This bill would have made pari-mutuel betting a part of the newly regulated landscape. However, at this stage, only single and multiway wagers are possible.
Eventually, in May 2019, Montana sports betting became legal. However, only HB725 was signed into law by Governor Steve Bullock. In reviewing the two options, Bullock determined that the market wasn’t ready for SB330. Had he signed that bill, private operators would have been authorized to offer sports wagering in Montana.
However, in his mind, HB725 was the better option at this stage. Under the terms of this legislation, the Montana Lottery will have somewhat of a monopoly over the industry. In practice, this means only venues that are licensed by the lottery will be able to offer legal sports betting.
Those venues will only be able to use the odds provided by the lottery’s gaming provider, Intralot. Looking forward, this is likely to change in the future. For now, the Montana Lottery is Montana’s only licensed sports betting provider.
Where Can I Bet on Sports in Montana?
As we’ve noted, the Montana Lottery is the state’s only legal sports betting operator. This means you’re able to place bets at venues that are authorized by the local lottery. Additionally, you can place bets via sites powered by the Montana Lottery. But, those sites or mobile sports betting apps in Montana will only be permitted to use inside of licensed establishments.
The Lottery has begun the rollout of sports betting kiosks to retailers all across the state. Lookout for bars and taverns to start offering sports wagering to their patrons. The rollout will come in waves due to the training process that is necessary to run these machines.
Montana Sports Betting FAQ
What is the legal sports betting age in Montana?
To bet on sports at Montana’s best sportsbooks, you have to at least 18-years-old.
What is the Montana sports betting tax rate?
The finer points of Montana’s sports betting tax are still being determined. However, SB330 proposed a rate of 8.5% on private operators. It’s likely the Montana Lottery will pay a higher levy, as that has been the case in other states.
Can I bet on sports online in Montana?
Yes, but there will be some restrictions. Firstly, you’ll only be able to bet on sports via sites/apps powered by the Montana Lottery. Secondly, the mobile betting apps will only work inside approved venues. This means you won’t be able to bet on sports at home just yet.
When can I bet on Sports in Montana?
Sports betting in Montana technically launched on March 9, 2020. That was the day that sports betting kiosks were set up in hundreds of bars and taverns all across the state. However, these kiosks are still being sent to more locations as time goes by. The training involved with using the terminals is the only thing that may delay kiosks coming to a location near you.
Why is the Montana Lottery Being Sued?
The lottery is being sued because a certain business did not feel as though it was in the Lottery’s power to determine that only businesses with an alcoholic beverage license could offer sports betting.
They believe that other businesses should also be able to provide sportsbooks in Montana, but the bill that was signed into law implies otherwise. The lawsuit is still in its initial stages and there is no indication at this time of how it will affect the rollout of MT sports betting kiosks.