How Sports Gambling Impacts Montana

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Montana was the ninth state that legalized sports betting in May 2019. Former governor Steve Bullock formally signed a 28-page bill that brought sports betting to Big Sky country via the state’s lottery.       

In other states, sports bettors can place their stake online via a licensed sportsbook. However, in Montana, sports bettors must be physically present at an authorized retailer to place a wager.

If a bettor wants to place a stake on a matchup online, they have to place their bets inside one of the retailers to be legal. 

Because any establishment with a liquor license can offer live poker and video gambling, sports bettors can place their bets at numerous kiosks in licensed restaurants and bars. 

In addition, stakes in Montana are capped at $1,000 when online and $250 for kiosks. 

In most states where sports wagering is legal, their Gaming Control Division is the one that oversees betting. However, in Montana, it’s the Department of Justice that regulates sports betting activities. 

The Treasure State also appoints the Montana Lottery to conduct sports betting within its territory. 

INTRALOT, a global lottery company, installs and operates sports betting kiosks and betting apps at legal locations across the Big Sky country. 

With INTRALOT, there’s no way for licensed locations to offer other sportsbook apps that can directly compete with the state’s lottery offerings. 

However, licensed gambling operators, such as casinos and bars, can offer sports tab games and sports pools regulated by the Department of Justice in Montana.

In addition, there has been no bet limit to sports pools and tabs in the Big Sky country as of October 1, 2021.  

The Unusual Launch 

Sports Bet Montana was launched right before the global pandemic shutdown. Despite its unusual launch, Montana Lottery, which runs the sports betting service, said the program had seen more than $5 million legal stakes on sports in 2020. 

When Sports Bet Montana was proposed to legislators, the program was billed as a huge moneymaker for the Treasure State. Sports betting was estimated to raise $1.5 to $2 million in revenue to its general fund.  

In addition, the lobbyists of the program projected another $3 to $4 million for a school scholarship fund for science and technology. 

The program’s first year didn’t see that level of anticipated returns, though. Still, it was understandable due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Sports Bet Montana was officially opened on March 11, 2020, with kiosks installed at licensed casinos, bars, and restaurants. It was also the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic.

After the WHO declaration, most professional sports had been canceled. By the end of the month, Montana was under a stay-at-home order to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

This statewide policy limited many bars and restaurants to takeout only. However, in September 2020, most professional sports returned. Restaurants, casinos, and bars were also reopened.  

The Montana Lottery said that from September 1, 2020, to August 31, 2021, the total bets placed were $44,467,549. About 87.4% was the total payout to bettors, with 12.6% allotted to gross gaming revenue. 

Those numbers were impressive considering that the Montana Lottery had done little advertising due to the pandemic. 

Because of the global crisis, many Montanans have found themselves in difficult economic situations. Most taverns in the state haven’t seen anywhere near the same number of customers before the pandemic.   

Still, the number of bets placed may be a good indicator of the locals’ desire for sports betting. 

Sports gambling may not be widely accepted. However, this may open up an entirely new market for economic growth in the Land of the Shining Mountains that may positively impact Montanans’ life satisfaction. 




  1. Montana Sports Betting 2021


  1. Montana Sports Betting 


  1. Sports Bet Montana finding success outside COVID impacts 


  1. An Act Removing Limitations Relating To Sports Pools And Sports Tabs; Removing Dollar Limitations On The Amounts Of Sports Tabs Sold And Winnings; And Amending Section 23-5-503, Mca 


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