Montana Becomes the Latest State to Legalize Sports Betting

Sports betting has arrived in Montana. As of 9 March 2020, residents of the Treasure State can make wagers on a range of professional and collegiate sports including Football, Basketball and Baseball. This activity will be available exclusively through the Montana Lottery Commission, via a company called Sports Bet.

Sports Bet arrives in Montana

Montana have decided to utilize a single-operator strategy. Sports Bet will essentially be the name and face of wagering in the state. Players will be able to place their bets at a host of retail outlets who have permits. Around 140 of these were in place ahead of the launch, with plenty more applications expected to be approved by the Commission in the coming months, as many as 1400 could be included in time.

There’s a mobile app too, but users will have to be on the premises that holds one of the aforementioned licenses. So-called “null beacons” will prevent the signal required to place a bet from leaving the premises so it can’t be used at home. In that sense, it isn’t a truly mobile betting experience, albeit as the number of outlets offering betting increases, it will become easier to make your picks.

This distinction, together with the single company being able to offer odds means it differs from those who have taken a more expansive stance on the subject, such as New Jersey. A more extensive approach brings together a choice of lines, markets and payment methods such as e-wallets. For example, there are many sports betting sites that accept PayPal in the US. This adds an extra layer of protection to bettors because they’re not required to submit financial information, such as debit card details, directly to the bookmaker in order to place a bet.

What can I bet on in Montana?

In February of this year, the Lottery Commission met to decide the exact parameters by which sports betting could occur in Montana. This included both the range of sports – both professional and collegiate – that were to be offered as well as the type of wagers that would be available upon launch. The following sports were included:

  • Basketball
  • Ice Hockey
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Tennis
  • Boxing
  • MMA
  • Soccer
  • Golf
  • Motorsports

The meeting also concluded with these approved bet types

  • Moneyline
  • Over/Under
  • In-game (Live) betting
  • Parlays
  • Spread betting
  • Prop bets
  • Futures

While not the most extensive list on the market, there is now plenty of choice for bettors who want to get involved in the most popular events the sporting calendar has to offer. As a state looking to appeal to the recreational market, bets at approved retail kiosks will be limited at $250, while mobile wagers max out at $1000.

How did we get here? From PASPA to Launch

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) essentially outlawed sports betting in most states until 2018. Montana was one of those with a minor exemption, initially offering a very limited version of football themed lotteries but these quickly disappeared after the PASPA ruling in 1992.

However, the US Supreme Court struck down the law on May 14, 2018. This essentially allowed states to dictate their own stance on sports betting. Since then, there have been a raft of different implementations with rules varying by state in terms of mobile wagering, sports available and the number of operators allowed to offer their services.

In May 2019 Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed two bills into law (HB 725) that legalized sports betting, but it took until March 2020 for the infrastructure to be in place.