The Big Sky Country has recently turned a domestic sports betting bill into law after Governor Steve Bullock signed one of two wagering bills on his desk.
Several US states have tried to pass domestic sports gambling expansion bills in 2019 including Tennessee, Indiana, and Iowa. However, Montana successfully turned their pending bill into law in May of 2019, one year after PASPA’s formal removal by the Supreme Court of the United States. MT Gov. Bullock signed HB 725 into law, a bill which would allow in-person betting through kiosks and online wagering through mobile phones while within licensed bars, restaurants, and approved betting locations.
This model is vastly different from how states with legal online and mobile sports betting, such as New Jersey, operate. NJ’s mobile betting works by allowing bettors access to wagering anywhere within the state’s borders. Montana decided against this type of model; provisions under this law seem like they will allow for 18+ gambling on sports.
The law has come into effect immediately with hopes of domestic wagering capabilities in time for football season in fall of 2019. Some MT officials estimate domestic wagering will produce $3.7 million in tax revenue its first year and more than $5 million every year by 2023. Tax revenue form MT-licensed and regulated sports gambling will go to the State Treasury and a state Scholarship Fund.
Montana Governor Bullock had two sports gambling bills presented to him, the other which he vetoed was SB 330 a Senate bill which would have allowed private businesses to run sportsbooks, kiosks, and mobile betting apps – regulated by the Montana Justice Department. The House bill the Governor signed works off the state lottery’s existing infrastructure and already ensures a transparent environment, according to the Governor. Gov. Bullock expressed concern at this time of allowing private businesses with more funds creating a “fragmented market” but is willing to review the private model after currently approved systems are tested and implemented.
Intralot will run Montana’s sports gambling options for 7 years while giving the state the ability to monitor and control domestic operations and activity. The Montana Tavern Association lobbied for sports gambling legalization to provide their association members exclusive rights to host betting. John Iverson, the Montana Tavern Association’s Executive Director says the value of betting to MT restaurants and bars will be new customers in the form of bettors and longer stays due to gambling, like “Extra cheeseburgers; extra slices of pizza, [and] a few more people filling seats”.