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Online and Offline Sports Betting in Montana

Daniel Smyth
Montana sports betting

Updated on November 30, 2019

The downfall of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has given rise to sweeping changes across the US. In the month’s 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 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.

March 2019

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.

April 2019

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.

May 2019

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?

Montana Lottery
The Montana Lottery will take control of sports betting in the state. (Image: Great Falls Tribune)

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.

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?

Even though Montana was the first state to legalize sports betting in 2019, it likely won’t be until 2020 before sportsbooks in the state actually open. The reason the launch was delayed due in part to state officials’ concern over Intralot, Montana’s lottery provider, and how it was chosen to be Montana’s sole sports betting operator. Certain officials feared that letting Intralot run the state’s sportsbooks might invoke a lawsuit down the line.

What is the current status of ‘Sports Bet Montana’?

Sports betting rules in Montana have been approved by the Montana lottery and are waiting to be published by the Montana Administrative Register. That should happen sometime in December 2019. Once that happens, the Lottery will be able to accept applications from restaurants, bars, and taverns that wish to offer the activity. After that, sports betting kiosks in MT will debut gradually.