Montana sports betting can begin, and just in time for March Madness. The Montana Lottery Commission approved bet types and sports at last week’s meeting.
Sports wagering terminals will be installed beginning the week of March 9, Montana Lottery communications manager Jennifer McKee said.
There’s no formal date for when those outlets will begin to take bets. After the installation of the kiosks, the training of sales agents will begin.
“We are in the home stretch of our planning and testing,” McKee said. “We are really looking forward to getting Sports Bet Montana in the market, and we’re as excited as Montanans are for betting to begin.”
Sports Bet Montana technically launched in December, and more than 100 sales agents have been licensed since then. Gov. Steve Bullock signed HB 725 into law in May 2019 to make Montana the first state to legalize sports betting in 2019.
Montana sports betting avoided major delays
There was a possibility that sports betting in MT could have been delayed over who could offer wagering.
The lottery decided to tie Montana sports betting licenses to the 1,400 establishments that sell lottery products and have an alcohol license.
The fact that the legislature didn’t require that prompted at least one lawsuit. Private firm Arete Group argued it deserved a sports betting license without an alcohol license and wanted an injunction to stop the process.
But a vote in the joint State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs Committee in October to delay setting the rules ended in a tie. That let the Montana Lottery proceed with the process.
The Arete Group followed through with its threat of litigation with a lawsuit in January.
Intralot almost caused a delay, too
Simply awarding the sports betting contract to Intralot nearly led to a delay as well.
Some wanted a new request for proposal to find the best sports betting supplier that suited the state.
But Montana Lottery attorney Mike Manion explained that sports betting is a new lottery game, meaning it automatically falls to Intralot. The request for a proposal that Intralot won in 2014 included incorporating any new lottery game into its operations.
Mobile betting limited to on-site
Montana will not offer a full mobile sports wagering experience. That means MT sports betting will not be available anywhere within the state, but only close to designated locations.
While players will be able to use mobile devices to place bets, it will be extremely limited. Mobile is only available when within a close range of the sports betting kiosks.
That means the most significant benefit of mobile is not getting up from your bar seat and walking to the kiosk to place a bet.