New Bill Seeks To Clarify Legality Of Online Fantasy Sports In Montana

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State flag of Montana

Montana is one of the few states consistently blocked by major one-day fantasy sports sites, including market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings.

That status could be set to change thanks to a new legislative effort from Rep. Forest Mandeville (HB 181) aimed at easing some of the restrictions that currently prohibit Montana residents from playing fantasy sports online.

Full text of the bill is available here. You can track the bill here.

Key points of HB 181

Full bill text here.

Mandeville offered a brief comment on the bill via Twitter:

Sign up at OpenStates to follow the progress of HB 181.

What stops DFS sites from operating in Montana in the status quo?

In simple terms: Montana is one of a handful of “any chance” states that defines gambling as risking a thing of value on an outcome that involves any chance.

From the Montana Code:

(13) (a) “Gambling” or “gambling activity” means risking any money, credit, deposit, check, property, or other thing of value for a gain that is contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, or the operation of a gambling device or gambling enterprise.

That’s in contrast to two other common standards used to define gambling in state law – “material degree” of chance, where chance plays not just any role, but a substantial one, and “dominant factor,” where the majority of the outcome is determined by chance.

2015 could be a busy legislative year for DFS

Mandeville’s bill came the same week as an attempt to regulate some types of online fantasy sports play in Indiana.

And the two states are unlikely to be the last to address the issue before the year is out.

Several industry sources told me that lobbying efforts in a number of states – especially those with perceived restrictions on one-day fantasy sports – has ramped up dramatically in recent months.

The five most-typically-blocked states – Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington State – have a combined population of roughly 22 million.