Montana Sports Betting
Montana sports betting has been legal and available since March 2020. However, the state is one of the more low-profile states when it comes to online and retail sports betting.
The state’s low population, roughly 1 million, is part of the reason for Montana’s relative anonymity in sports betting. Secondly, Montana structured its sports betting market through the state lottery, with a limited online sports betting option.
Sports betting in Montana remains a low-key endeavor, and a unique one. Below, we have all the details about what you can bet on, where you can bet and why things are the way they are in Big Sky Country.
Is sports betting legal in Montana?
Yes. In fact, there may be more sportsbook locations in Montana than in any other state at the moment. Montana law allows all licensed lottery retailers in the state to offer sports betting on their premises.
As is the case in many states, small vendors like the state’s electronic gaming casinos, convenience stores, restaurants, bars and taverns are all lottery retailers.
Where can I bet on sports in Montana?
Hundreds of locations in Montana have applied for and received licenses to offer sports betting. To see all of them, check the Montana Lottery website. However, here are the total locations in Montana’s population centers:
- Belgrade — 9 locations
- Billings — 75 locations
- Bozeman — 19 locations
- Butte — 34 locations
- Great Falls — 40 locations
- Helena — 22 locations
- Kalispell — 18 locations
- Missoula — 43 locations
Bear in mind, this list is only a sample of the largest groupings of sports betting locations. Many Montana towns have multiple options, and even some small towns have at least one place to go.
Can I bet on sports online in Montana?
Yes, but Montana’s online sports betting option, Sports Bet Montana, is an in-person experience. The lottery’s own FAQ explains the situation thusly:
“You can only register, log in, upload documents, browse the site, deposit, prepare wagers on your betslip, withdraw funds, set your personal limits, change your personal details when you are at home. You cannot place bets through your personal computer or mobile phone while at home. You can only place wagers in an authorized Sports Bet Montana location.”
In other words, you can do every part of sports betting online in Montana EXCEPT bet on sports. You must be within the premises of one of the locations listed above to place any bets.
How online sports betting works in Montana
Sports betting became legal in Montana in April 2019. The enabling language in the Montana Code is due to the passage of HB 725. Gov. Steve Bullock’s signature on the bill then put the law into place.
Montana established sports betting as a government-run entity, rather than as a competitive market. The Montana Lottery is both the regulator and the purveyor of sports betting in the state. Thus, all of the sports betting products that you can find in Montana, whether retail or online, are extensions of the lottery.
Perhaps the most significant part of the law is the restriction that it places on online sports betting. Although the lone legal sports betting app, Sports Bet Montana, is part of a state agency, players cannot place wagers outside of the premises of one of the many sportsbook locations in the state. The app allows registrations, deposits and the like without a visit to a physical location, but the final step to secure your wager requires travel.
The law also allows for more retail sportsbook locations than almost any other state. Any lottery retailer can offer sports betting through specially designed kiosks. So, even though the travel requirement is annoying, there is probably a sportsbook location nearby.
Montana Lottery rules also limit the maximum amount you can bet. Oddly, you can make a wager online that is four times the size of the largest legal in-person wager. In-person bettors may wager up to $250, while online bettors can bet as much as $1,000 on a single wager.
There are no discernible prohibitions on college betting under the law. However, both of Montana’s primary college teams, the University of Montana and Montana State, play some of their sports — including football — at the second-tier FCS level. Given that, it may not be possible to bet on the Grizzlies and Bobcats.
Finally, the law regards fantasy sports competitions as improper vehicles for sports betting. In keeping with the state’s past hostility to DFS, HB 725 specifically bans wagers on fantasy sports games that meet certain criteria.
Popular sports to bet on in Montana
Montana is not home to any top professional sports teams. A state with only 1 million residents simply doesn’t offer enough of a draw for NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams. However, there are still some teams that serve as the favorites for many Montana fans.
NFL games are the most popular US sports betting option, including in Montana. The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are the league’s closest teams to the state.
NBA games are also a popular draw for bettors in the US, be it in Montana or elsewhere. One of the closest options is the Utah Jazz. Many Montanans also root for the Los Angeles Lakers, which serves as a proxy team for many people in the western United States.
It’s difficult to find easy allegiances for MLB teams in Montana. There might be some affinities for teams like the Cincinnati Reds, the Chicago White Sox or the Arizona Diamondbacks due to longstanding partnerships with minor league teams in Montana. The state is home to an independent minor league — the Pioneer League — but it is no longer a direct affiliate of Major League Baseball. Other than that, the Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners are top draws in the state.
Montana is certainly a big hockey state. Its northern latitude makes finding a hockey rink much easier than in more southern locations. One of the most interesting things about Montanans is where their NHL loyalties lie. Many Montanans count none other than the Las Vegas Golden Knights as their home team, despite a distance of more than 700 miles, depending on where you live in Montana.
Of course, the most popular homegrown teams in Montana are its two major universities. Both the Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State Bobcats play their games in the NCAA’s Division I. However, the schools’ football teams play in the FCS — the NCAA’s second tier. So, while you should be able to find plenty of options to bet on the teams in Missoula and Bozeman, you might have trouble finding the most popular betting sport for them.
On the bright side, however, Montana law has no restrictions on college wagering, including on in-state teams.
Other types of legal gambling in Montana
Sports betting is not the only option in the state. There are dozens of locations with the word “casino” in their business name, and you can find many ways to place a bet. However, there are also a few types of gambling that the law specifically prohibits, so it’s good to know about those.
Montana is home to more than 100 locations around the state that offer some form of casino gambling. However, Montana law restricts these locations from offering any kind of house-banked card or table games. Games like blackjack, craps and roulette are unavailable to play legally. Even true slot machines are not legal under the Montana Annotated Code.
Casino locations in the state are confined to video bingo, video keno, video poker and other slot-like machines grouped under the term “video line machines” in the law. They may also offer live poker, bingo, raffles and sports pools if they choose to do so.
Both commercial interests and federally recognized tribal groups own and operate casinos in the state. Since commercial locations are so numerous, there’s no good way to list them. However, here are the tribal locations that offer casino gambling in Montana:
- Charging Horse Casino & Bingo — Lame Deer
- Fort Belknap Casino — Harlem
- Glacier Peaks Hotel & Casino — Browning
- Gray Wolf Peak Casino — Missoula
- KwaTaqNuk Resort Casino — Polson
- Northern Winz Hotel and Casino — Box Elder
- Silverwolf Casino — Wolf Point
Horses are an institution in Montana, and it’s no surprise that horse betting is available in the state, with a couple of options.
The first way to bet on horse racing in Montana is at the state’s two tracks. Both tracks offer seasonal racing more akin to a state fair format, rather than a commercial track. Still, you can bet on live horse races at the following locations during the year:
- Great Falls Turf Club — Great Falls
- Miles City Bucking Horse Sale — Miles City
The other way to bet on horse races in Montana is through online horse betting sites like FanDuel Racing and Caesars Racebook, the latter of which launched in the state in June 2022. Licensed ADW sites in Montana include the following:
- AmWest Entertainment
- Day at the Track
- eBet Technologies Inc. (part of Sportech Group)
- Game Play Network Inc.
- Lien Games Racing
- NYRA Bets (Caesars)
Daily fantasy sports
Montana stands out as one of the few states to specifically outlaw daily fantasy sports. MCA 23-5-802 makes the state’s position clear:
“It is lawful to conduct or participate in a fantasy sports league, including a fantasy sports league that is operated under a parimutuel system of wagering regulated under Title 23, chapter 4. It is unlawful to wager on a fantasy sports league by telephone or by the internet.”
In other words, it’s OK to have a fantasy sports league in Montana in person. However, people are breaking the law if they call in their picks or use DraftKings, FanDuel or any other site to play DFS contests. Those companies do not offer services in Montana.
Montana sports betting FAQ
Who oversees sports betting in Montana?
The Montana Lottery. Sports betting in Montana is a state-run enterprise that the lottery manages and operates.
What is the legal age to bet on sports in Montana?
You must be 18 or older. Montana is one of only a few states to allow sports betting for people in their late teens.
Do I have to be inside Montana to bet?
Yes. It is impossible to wager at Montana sportsbooks without being in the state. In fact, due to the state’s specific requirements about the sportsbook app and geolocation verification, you must be at a licensed sportsbook facility to finalize your wager.
Do I have to live in Montana to wager on sports there?
No. It is not necessary to be a Montana resident to use a Montana sportsbook. You need only be of the correct age and at one of Montana’s sportsbook facilities.
Are there any other sportsbook apps that I can use in Montana?
No. There are no other sportsbook apps operating legally in Montana.
However, you may find online sportsbooks through a Google search that claim to offer legal betting in the state. Please do not use these. Montana law specifically disallows internet gambling, and the in-person requirement for Montana’s own app, Sports Bet Montana, highlights this prohibition. Any site claiming to be legal for Montanans is not telling the truth.
These sportsbooks generally operate from outside the US and do not have any mandate to follow US laws or standards. So, if you do happen to play, you would have little to no recourse if any issues came up.
If you’re looking for more information about sports betting in Montana, try the sources below.