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Is sports betting legal in Montana?

Yes. In fact, there may be more places to bet in Montana than in any other state. 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 number of locations in Montana’s population centers:

Remember, this list is only a sample of the largest groupings of sports betting locations. Many Montana towns have multiple options, and 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. There are no other apps in the state offering online sports betting promos. The lottery’s own FAQ explains the situation like this:

“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 put the law into place.

Montana established sports betting as a government-run entity rather than 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 its restriction on online sports betting. Although the lone legal sports betting app, Sports Bet Montana, is part of a state agency, bettors 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 legal sports betting location, but the final step to secure your wager requires you to be at one.

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 in-person requirement may be annoying, a sportsbook location is probably 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. In fact, the Montana Lottery declined a 2024 request from the NCAA to ban prop bets on college athletes. However, Montana’s primary college teams, the University of Montana and Montana State, play some 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, some teams still serve as the favorites for many Montana fans. 

NFL

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

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, a proxy team for many people in the western United States.

MLB

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, and 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 the closest MLB teams to the state.

NHL

Montana’s 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. Some people in the state 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. 

NCAA

Of course, Montana’s two major universities are the most popular homegrown teams. The Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State Bobcats play 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 other hand, 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, the law prohibits a few types of gambling explicitly, so it’s good to know about them.

Casino gambling

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. Casinos 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:

Horse betting

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:

The other way to bet on horse races in Montana is through online horse betting sites like FanDuel Racing and Caesars Racebook, the former of which launched in the state in 2024. FanDuel Racing offers the latest Kentucky Derby odds for Montana bettors looking to wager on the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Other licensed advance deposit wagering sites in Montana include the following:

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. No other sportsbook apps are operating legally in Montana. 

However, you may find online sportsbooks claiming legal betting in the state through a Google search. 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.

Resources

If you’re looking for more information about sports betting in Montana, try the sources below.