Montana is expected to have sports betting operational by the end of this year. Gamblers there that don’t want to place wagers online or via a mobile app probably won’t have to go far, because as many 1,400 businesses across the state could take sports bets.
A recent proposal by the Montana Lottery and Sports Wagering Commission indicates that as many as 1,400 locations across the Big Sky State could be eligible to accept sports bets. The commission released proposed rules changes in late September and is holding a public forum for citizens to comment on the matter on Monday, Oct. 28 in the state capital of Helena. The official comment period runs through Nov. 4.
Previously, Montana lawmakers sought to restrict sports betting to official gaming venues. House Bill (H 725), the sports wagering legislation signed earlier his year by Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, permits the lottery to offer online betting and wagering at land-based kiosks.
The state lottery further amplified that rule by seeking to tie sports betting licenses to liquor permits.
The lottery has taken this approach because by limiting eligibility to locations that possess the appropriate alcoholic beverage license for certain gambling activities, the lottery will ensure a sufficient number of locations to offer sports wagering and help limit any adverse impacts of an overabundance of population,” according to the rule change proposal.
At the time the state signed off on sports betting, Montana was the ninth state to do so and the first in 2019.
Lots Of Locations
Montana is home to a handful of traditional land-based casinos. But the bulk of the state’s gaming, including live card games and video gambling machines, occurs in bars and taverns. State law mandates that those venues must have liquor licenses before they’re allowed to offer gambling on premises.
The estimate of 1,400 sports betting locations is derived from state data indicating there are approximately that many liquor permit holders that could be eligible to offer customers to sports betting.
Considering that Montana is home to just 1.07 million residents, making it merely the 44th largest state by population, 1,400 sports betting venues is a sizable number. It works out to be one for every 764.2 citizens there.
By comparison, Nevada has over 100 sportsbooks and, as just one example, William Hill has nearly 70 kiosks throughout the Silver State. But those numbers are still dwarfed by what could be seen in Montana.
Facts And Figures
Montana will allow betting on both amateur and professional sports, bucking a recent trend of some states seeking bans on wagers on college games.
In its first year, sports betting is expected to generate $65 million in revenue and $3.7 million in taxes for Montana, with those numbers forecast to grow to $87 million and $5.4 million, respectively, by 2023.
Montana shares borders with four states and is the only one of that group that permits sports wagering.
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