Montana Sports Betting

Montana Sports Betting
As of right now, sports betting is not legal in the state of Montana. However, there are two sports betting bills on the governor’s desk that would make sports betting legal in the state of Montana. The two bills are S 330 and H 725. H 725, which authorizes the Montana Lottery to operate sports betting, passed the Senate.

By a vote of 90-0, the House put through an amended version of S 330. With this bill, Montana sports betting licensed operators in the state will be able to choose their sportsbook partners. There is a third bill H 475 that would provide limited pari-mutuel style sports wagering at horse tracks and off-track betting facilities. The governor is most likely to sign H 725 because it falls within the governor’s administration.

At a Glance
Status of Betting at a Glance: The Montana Legislature has approved legal gambling in Montana on a limited basis. Poker, keno, bingo, and video line gambling machines are legal with a maximum $2 bet and $800 maximum payout. Legal live games include raffles, bingo, keno, panguingue, poker, and shake-a-day. Sports pools, fantasy sports leagues, and sports tab games are also legal.

Places to Bet at a Glance: Montana doesn’t have a lot of casinos to choose from even though they are looking to become the next state that allows sports betting but the top six casinos in the state are as follows: Montana ExpoPark in Great Falls, Crystal Lounge and Casino in Billings, Buster’s Casino and Liquor Store in Whitefish, Gold Dust Casino in Billings, Whiskey Creek Saloon and Casino in Livingston and Glacier Lanes & Casino in Columbia Falls.

Teams at a Glance: Like a lot of the states where sports betting is legal Montana lacks any professional sports teams in the state, and there are not any states that share a border with the state of Montana that have them either. However, the following professional sports teams are popular in the state and could help to drive betting. In the MLB, the Colorado Rockies are popular, and in the NBA the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz are popular. In the NFL the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are popular. In the NHL the most popular team is the Colorado Avalanche.

Status of Betting
In 1989, Montana’s new constitution made all forms of gambling illegal. However, illegal gambling existed throughout the state. In 1933, prohibition was repealed. Bars opened, and gambling resurfaced. Pull-tabs became popular. In 1937, the legislature passed the Hickey Act, which legalized various table games in various locations if licensed by a county. In 1945, the legislature authorized the State Board of Equalization to license certain trade simulators and other devices for nonprofit organizations and collect a tax on them. Illegal slot machines were located throughout the state as trade simulators. In 1949, the legislature declared a law enforcement emergency and allocated $40,000 to enforce gambling laws.

In 1950, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that slot machines and punch boards were illegal under the state constitution. In 1972, voters approved a Constitutional Convention referendum giving the legislature and the people the authority to approve or disapprove of gambling. In 1973, the legislature passed the card game Bingo, Raffles and Sports Pool Act. In 1976, the Montana Supreme Court legalized video keno as a form of live bingo. In 1983 voters defeated Initiative 92, which would have established a Gaming Commission and a limited list of games allowed by counties. In 1984, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that video poker machines were illegal slot machines. In 1985, the legislature passed the Video Poker Machines Act, which allowed five poker machines per liquor license and unlimited keno machines.

In 1986, voters approved the Montana Lottery. In 1989, the legislature passed Senate Bill 431, which centralized gambling regulation as the state level and consolidated all gambling statutes. In 1991, the legislature lifted the limit of video poker machines and authorized a total of 20 video gambling machines per liquor license. The Senate Judiciary Committee also rejected a blackjack bill. Numerous forms of gambling have been approved since then, and three bills are sitting on the governor’s desk that would make sports betting legal in the state of Montana.

Where to Bet Sports
There aren’t a lot of casinos in the state of Montana as they have stricter laws than most states that allow gambling, but the six most popular casinos in the state of Montana are the Montana ExpoPark, Crystal Lounge and Casino, Buster’s Casino and Liquor Store, Gold Dust Casino, Whiskey Creek Saloon and Casino, and Glacier Lanes & Casino. This section will take a more in-depth look at the six casinos, and we will start with the Montana ExpoPark.

Montana ExpoPark: The casino is located in Great Falls and offers promotions, contests live music, and special races along with racing and entertainment make Montana Downs a popular attraction with racing fans and visitors. Families are able to enjoy a day at the races, and by catering for a diverse crowd, the park is able to attract people from all walks of life. Live horse racing begins during the Montana State Fair at the Montana ExpoPark at the end of July. The race meet features a variety of thoroughbred and quarter horse stakes races with major high stakes events. Parking is free, and general admission is free as well. On fair days general admission is free with purchase of fair admission.

Crystal Lounge and Casino: The Crystal Lounge features Billing’s best karaoke and drink prices 7 days a week, 365 days a year! The Crystal Casino has the hottest games plus the Mega Cash Rewards program with jaw-dropping cash bonuses. In the Queen of Hearts card room. Yami and her crew have the friendliest poker game in town, beginning at 10 a.m. daily. Join her and our exceptional staff for great drinks and company.

Buster’s Casino and Liquor Store: The liquor store has a nice selection and are open when other liquor stores are closed. The casino has lots of fun games, and as long as you are gambling, you can drink free draft beer. There is always the possibility of winning money too!

Gold Dust Casino: I love this place. This place is divided into two sections, the small casino and bar, and the other side is the card room. There are friendly card games most days of the week, structured, no limit and such. Great people.

Whiskey Creek Saloon and Casino: We visited the saloon to watch the NASCAR race (Richmond). The employees and patrons were very helpful, nice, and friendly. The stained-glass door and the iron bench outside the saloon are an added bonus! Nice touch. The locals had a poker tournament going, and the atmosphere was relaxing. We will be back!

Glacier Lanes & Casino: I went into Glacier Lanes not knowing what to expect but was really surprised! They have a wide microbrew selection, people young and old bowl together. There was a live band playing, and the place was packed! Such a good night! Glad to know this place exists, I will be back for sure.

Latest News
May 6th, 2019: Montana sports betting officially became legal Friday when Governor Steve Bullock signed one of the two passed bills on the topic. The Associated Press reports that H 725 received Bullock’s signature and made Montana the ninth state with a US sports betting operation. A second sports betting bill passed by Montana legislators, S 330, was vetoed by Bullock on Friday as well.

April 22nd, 2019: Montana Governor Steve Bullock now has two sports betting bills on his desk. With the sponsors supporting each other’s Montana sports betting bills, S 330 and H 725 received final legislative approval last week. The House bill, authorizes the Montana Lottery to operate sports betting, passed the Senate. The House passed an amended version of S 330 on Monday by a vote of 90-9. The Senate’s Montana sports betting bill gives licensed gambling operators in the state a choice of sportsbook partners.

Sports Teams That Drive Betting
There may not be any professional teams in the state of Montana or border states that have professional teams either, but that does not mean that there isn’t a dense population of fan bases in the state that will help to drive sports betting for the state. This article will examine the teams of each of the four major sports as well as what teams in those leagues that will help drive sports betting in the state.

NBA: There are two main fan bases of NBA teams in the state of Montana, which are the Denver Nuggets as well as the Utah Jazz. Montana doesn’t have a professional sports team in the state, and none of the surrounding states have NBA teams either.

NFL: Like the NBA there are no NFL teams in the state of Montana or in the states that border Montana either, however, there are two main fan bases for the NFL in the state of Montana which are the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.

MLB: Like the previous two professional leagues, there are not any MLB teams in the state of Montana nor or there any in the states that border the state of Montana. There are two major fan bases for MLB in the state, though, which are the Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners.

NHL: Like the last three professional leagues, there aren’t any professional NHL teams in the state of Montana, nor are there any in the states that border the state. There is a major fan base in the state for NHL though which the majority of the population in the state favors which is the Colorado Avalanche.

Legal Status
Casino: In 2003 the legislature defeats a proposal to allow the creation of “Destination Montana” an entertainment district with Las Vegas-style casinos in Butte making casinos to remain illegal in the state of Montana.

Sports Betting: Sports betting became legal in May of this year with the passage of H 725 however there are not sportsbooks currently in the state with the passage being so new.

Horse Racing Legal Status: Is legal. The Board of Horse racing governs Montana’s pari-mutuel industry. The only racetrack that offers horse racing is Yellowstone Downs which offer races during the summer months.

Poker Legal Status: Is legal. Bars and saloons with gaming licenses are the biggest source of poker action in Montana. Many popular charity poker tournaments are held around the state every year.

DFS: DFS remains illegal in the state of Montana and is one of the few forms of gambling that remains illegal in the state of Montana, but I would not be surprised to see this change in the future now that sports betting is legal in the state.

Lottery: The Lottery has been legal in the state of Montana since 1986.

Sports Betting Timeline

  • April 2019 both legislatures approve two sports betting bills with H 725 and S 330
  • May 2019 Governor Steve Bullock signs H 725 legalizing sports betting in the state of Montana
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