HELENA – The 2019 Montana Legislature passed House Bill 725 during the legislative session, which legalized sports gambling in the state through the Montana Lottery.
HB725 was signed into law on May 3, and lottery officials say they’re already hard at work for the implementation.
Montana Lottery spokeswoman Jennifer McKee says they are still in the design phase but feel confident in being able to roll out sports wagering just like any other game.
“We’re really just following the same process that we develop everything with,” said McKee. “Sports wagering is legal in many states in the United States. It’s legal around the world, and in most of those places, it’s the lottery who does it.”
The lottery will run a Montana sportsbook similar to other current wagering in other states, but details have yet to be finalized.
Retailers that want to offer sports wagering will need to get a separate license to offer the service, and wagering will only be available inside a licensed location.
“What that means for Montana is you won’t be seeing sports wagering at every grocery store and gas station that currently sells Montana Lottery. It will be only locations get a sports wagering license, and it will only [be] in locations where it makes sense,” noted McKee.
The law prohibits any current Montana collegiate or professional coach, player, trainer, staff member or referee from making a bet on any sports game or event. Even athletes competing in sports like golf or rodeo are prohibited.
McKee added the Montana Lottery wants to make sure the sports gambling offered reflects what Montanans want and highly encourages people to send in their feedback.
Revenue generated by sports wagering in Montana is currently estimated to total around $4 million each year once it’s up and running.
-John Riley reporting for MTN News