GREAT FALLS — Sports betting in Montana is moving closer to becoming a reality, as the Montana Lottery has begun accepting licenses from businesses that want to offer Sports Bet Montana, the lottery’s new sports wagering product.
The 2019 Montana Legislature in May authorized the Montana Lottery to offer sports wagering. Since then, the lottery has been working on all aspects of designing and creating the new product. After a public comment period that ended recently, the official sports wagering rules were published in the Montana Administrative Register last week, paving the way for licensing to begin over the weekend.
Licensing is the first part of the Lottery’s roll out of Sports Bet Montana. As businesses become licensed, the lottery will begin statewide training followed by installing the new Sports Bet Montana equipment. Locations meeting the requirements for licensing can complete the license application by clicking here to visit the State of Montana’s eStop licensing portal.
Under the new law, players can only place bets at licensed Sports Bet Montana locations. Players can use a mobile app to see the upcoming events, the lines, and bets available, but they will only be able to place a bet from inside a licensed location.
Bets can be placed either on the Sports Bet Montana terminal or through the app when it is connected to the main Lottery system. This connection can only occur inside a licensed retail location.
(NOVEMBER 21, 2019) The Montana Lottery on Thursday that Sports Bet Montana will be the name of its new sports wagering product. The news came at a regularly-scheduled meeting of the Montana Lottery Commission in Helena, which also approved the official rules governing parts of the Lottery’s sports wagering product.
- May 3, 2019: Bullock signs bill to make sports betting legal in Montana
- May 9, 2019: Montana Lottery seeks public input on sports betting
The Montana Lottery expects to begin accepting applications by the end of the year from sales agents who want to offer Sports Bet Montana. "We’ve been working hard since May to create and build Sports Bet Montana,” said Lottery director Angela Wong said in a press release.
Bettors will have to gamble within establishments that have machines selling lottery tickets already — usually found in taverns or bars. Jennifer McKee, Montana Lottery communication manager, told MTN News in May 2019: “What that means for Montana is you won’t be seeing sports wagering at every grocery store and gas station that currently sells Montana Lottery. It will be only locations get a sports wagering license, and it will only [be] in locations where it makes sense."
The law prohibits any current Montana collegiate or professional coach, player, trainer, staff member or referee from making a bet on any sports game or event. Even athletes competing in sports like golf or rodeo are prohibited.
It's estimated that sports betting will raise $1.5 to $2 million in revenue for the state’s general fund and another $3 to $4 million for a school scholarship fund for science and technology learning.
The Lottery has been working toward launching sports betting since May, when a bill bringing sports wagering to Montana and placing it with the Lottery was signed into law . Part of the work of launching the new product involved drafting official state rules detailing how parts of the new product would be administered.
Under Montana law, the rules must go through a process designed to ensure the public has a voice in drafting the rules.
The process passed a major milestone on Thursday when the commission approved the rules. The rules must now be published in the Montana Administrative Register.