It may surprise you to learn that Montana is one of the most gambling-friendly states in the country. But Montana gambling is wholly unique in comparison to other states. The state has some interesting facets, with laws permitting all sorts of gambling in a variety of retail establishments where residents and visitors can physically play casino games. There are more than 300 of these commercial and tribal gambling locations scattered throughout the state.
Unfortunately, when it comes to online gambling, Montana has been less inviting than other states. The state legalized online sports betting in 2019, but it is a limited format for online gambling and not what you might see in Colorado. To date, there are no forms of legal online casinos in Big Sky Country. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Here’s all you need to know about legal gambling in Montana.
Play online slots or casino games in Montana
Can you gamble online in Montana?
Yes and no. Online gambling such as casinos and poker sites are essentially prohibited throughout Montana. However, there are some online gambling markets available in the state, albeit in a somewhat unique format. Sportsbooks allow bettors to bet online or via apps when physically on the premises of their establishments, but you can’t do so elsewhere. There are also online horse betting sites active in the state including TVG.
Are online casinos legal in Montana?
No, you won’t find any legal online casino options in Montana. Although Montana doesn’t allow online casino games, sweepstakes-style casinos and social casinos are the next best thing. You can even end up with real cash prizes. One of the best alternative options for Montana players is Chumba Casino and Luckyland Slots for social casinos and Funzpoints is a top competitor for sweepstake style casinos. Some of its slots pay just like your favorite real money casino games, or you can pick from dozens of others on the site.
Real money online casinos are legal in very few states in the US, and Montana isn’t one of them. The nearest one would be Michigan, which isn’t that nearby at all. To the south, Nevada has only legalized online poker, not online casinos.
Can you play online poker in Montana?
No. Much like other forms of online gambling in Montana, poker is very limited. There are no legal poker sites active in the state. If you’re looking to play poker online in Montana, check out Global Poker. It’s a sweepstakes-based site where you can claim real money prizes via cash games and tournaments featuring classic games like Texas Hold’em and more unique games such as Crazy Pineapple.
Will Montana regulate online gambling in the future?
It’s not likely Montana will regulate online gambling such as casinos and online poker rooms. Whatever momentum there was for online casinos was used to pass a bill to legalize sports betting in MT.
It’s a good sign that there have been progressive baby steps in the world of legal Montana gambling. But at present, the appetite for online gambling appears to have faded.
Legal online gambling in Montana
Montana may not offer legal forms of online gambling such as online poker or online casino games, but despite this, there are enough gambling options in the state that players should not be interested in illegal offshore sites. If you find a site that accepts players from Montana, it is most likely based offshore and therefore illegal to play.
Offshore sites offer zero trust, zero regulations and zero safeguards compared to legal regulated forms of gambling. In the event your money suddenly vanishes, there is no legal course of action you can take to get it back. Offshore sites operate outside US jurisdiction, so they are not subject to US or Montana laws.
Regulated, legal gambling sites offer consumer protections and necessary safeguards to ensure your money and data are safe, and they provide a trustworthy track record. It’s not worth the risk to gamble outside the US just to play a few hands of poker.
Who regulates gambling in Montana?
The Montana Lottery oversees all forms of gambling in the state.
What is the legal gambling age in Montana?
The legal gambling age in Montana is 18 years old. That’s for all forms of gambling available in the state. It puts Montana in a rare list of gambling states.
Types of legal gambling in Montana
Montana is unlike most other states insofar as it is very open to different forms of legal gambling, although it imposes some unique restrictions as well, especially when it comes to online gambling.
In Montana, any establishment with a liquor license can offer various kinds of gambling, including video slots, video poker and video keno. It can also allow patrons to use machines to bet on the lottery and on horse racing via off-track betting. Sports betting is now legal as well, meaning authorized sites can take wagers on sports, too.
These establishments are also allowed to spread live poker, and there are around two dozen small poker rooms in bars and taverns scattered around the state.
Are there casinos in Montana?
Sort of. You could technically say there are hundreds of “casinos” in Montana. But given Montana’s unique gambling laws, most of these retail places that offer casino-style gambling are better known as bars, taverns or restaurants. So don’t expect any Vegas-style resort-casinos. What’s in Montana is much smaller, but it’ll get the job done.
The common link is owning a liquor license, which then allows the establishment the option of offering various forms of gambling, too.
These “casinos” are able to offer up to 20 electronic gambling machines on which players can play slots, poker, keno and other games. The law requires the maximum bet on these games to be $2 and the maximum payout to be $800.
Some of these establishments also have live poker, but there are no table games like blackjack, roulette or craps. However, these are available at tribal casinos in the state.
Types of casino games in Montana
Even though the state has strict laws against online gambling, Big Sky Country has several different types of legal gambling for residents and guests, such as the following options:
- Video slots
- Video poker
- Video keno
- Horse racing
- Off-track betting
- Sports betting
- State lottery
- Live poker (two dozen locations)
Tribal casinos, meanwhile, also offer the following:
Tribal casinos in Montana
There are seven Native American tribes in Montana that operate 10 traditional retail casinos along with dozens of smaller gambling venues. The state has compacts with all seven that allow the tribes to offer different types of gambling. Montana currently has Class III gambling compacts with five tribes. That means those tribes are able to offer games like slots, roulette, craps, blackjack and poker. With the other two tribes, the state has negotiated Class II compacts that let them offer bingo games and slot-like games with spinning reels.
|B&S Laundry||Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes||Brockton|
|Charging Horse Casino & Bingo||Northern Cheyenne Tribe||Lame Deer|
|Fort Belknap Casino||Fort Belknap Indian Community||Harlem|
|Git-N-Go||Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes||Wolf Point|
|Glacier Little Peaks Casino||Blackfeet Tribe||Browning|
|Glacier Peaks Hotel & Casino||Blackfeet Tribe||Browning|
|Gray Wolf Peak Casino||Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes||Missoula|
|KwaTaqNuk Resort Casino||Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes||Polson|
|Northern Winz Casino II||Chippewa Cree Indians||Box Elder|
|Northern Winz Hotel and Casino||Chippewa Cree Indians||Box Elder|
|Silverwolf Casino||Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes||Wolf Point|
|TJ's Quikstop||Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes||Poplar|
|Tribal Express Casino||Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes||Poplar|
The largest tribal casinos in the state are the Gray Wolf Peak Casino in Missoula and the Glacier Little Peaks Casino in Browning.
The smallest are the Git-N-Go, Tribal Express Casino, TJ’s Quikstop and B&S Laundry properties, all operated by the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation.
Each has more than 300 video gambling machines. There are also a number of smaller establishments run by the tribes that resemble the bar-and-tavern “casinos” located throughout the state. The minimum gambling age at Montana tribal casinos is 18.
Is horse betting legal in Montana?
Yes, horse racing and horse betting are legal in Montana. The state has one active track to its name located in Great Falls.
Great Falls Turf Club
- Address: 1108 Central Ave., Great Falls, MT
- Phone: 406-727-4249
- Type of horse racing: Thoroughbred
The state also allows off-track betting. From 2012 until the end of 2019, the state had its own statewide simulcast network called Montana Simulcast Racing. However, the network did not renew its contract with the Montana Board of Horse Racing. Thus 2020 began with the network having gone dark and the board seeking a new partner for simulcasting.
There are several resources available in Montana to help with gambling addiction. Sports Bet Montana offers a dedicated page filled with information about addiction identifiers, gamblers anonymous programs, and self-exclusion lists. The Montana Council on Problem Gambling is an additional resource for those in need. The MTCPG provides a dedicated 24-hour helpline, outpatient treatment and an abundance of additional resources.
Montana Council on Problem Gambling
- PO Box 606
- Helena, MT 59624
- Phone: 406-438-1276
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: mtproblemgambling.org
- Helpline: 888-900-9979
History of gambling in Montana
As part of the Old West, Montana did not have legal gambling during the late 19th century and into the 20th century, although many illegal gambling halls operated all over the state. By the 1930s, some forms of gambling were legal, though in 1950 the state’s citizens overwhelmingly voted against an initiative to make gambling legal.
Certain types of charitable gaming like bingo, raffles and sports pools became legal in the early 1970s. Video keno became legal shortly thereafter. By the 1980s, lawmakers were debating both introducing a state lottery and whether to allow video poker machines.
In 1985, lawmakers passed the Video Poker Machine Act. The law allowed each establishment with a liquor license to have five video poker machines and an unlimited number of video keno machines. The next year the state issued nearly 3,000 video poker licenses. That was also the year the Montana Lottery gained approval, with the first tickets going on sale in 1987.
In 1989, another law passed that centralized all gambling regulation at the state level. Soon after that the limit on video gambling machines was set at 20 per liquor license. These machines allow patrons to play video poker, keno, slots and the lottery. Maximum payouts for the machines, for live poker games, and for the sports pools all increased over subsequent years.