Montana Sports Betting

Montana joined the wave of states legalizing sports betting in 2019, with the first sportsbooks launching in 2020. When sports betting arrived in Montana, it came to a state already home to a variety of different types of legal gambling. Some of these Montana gambling options include taverns.

The state’s sports betting law is also somewhat distinctive. Montana online sports betting is the only option, yet you must place wagers at authorized locations. It’s a hybrid, of sorts, between traditional retail sportsbooks and online-only sports betting. It’s also a monopoly, with the state-sponsored online sportsbook Sports Bet Montana the only game in town. Here’s all you need to know about betting on sports in Montana.

Is sports betting legal in Montana?

Yes, all legal sports betting in Montana happens on the Sports Bet Montana app or website. But there is a caveat. Users can only place bets at Sports Bet Montana when physically located at licensed sales agents around the state. Bettors can place wagers either at terminals (aka kiosks) within the licensed establishments or on mobile devices while on the premises. The sportsbook partner is Intralot.

So if you have a house in the woods with cellular reception or are visiting a hotel, you won’t be able to place a bet there. You must be in the geolocated zones of Sports Bet Montana’s lottery partner locations.

Does Montana have legal online sportsbooks?

Montana has just one legal online sportsbook, but with some major restrictions as noted above. Sports bettors can place wagers only when at a licensed retailer. In other words, while online sports betting is technically legal in Montana, it works much differently from, say, online sports betting in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

In Montana, online sports betting works a lot more like retail sports betting, given the requirement to be physically located at licensed retailers in order to place bets. You don’t necessarily have to be at a sportsbook counter, but you’ll find bets will go through digitally only if you’re located in these areas. The good news is that there are a lot of them. Read a little further down for information about locations.

Can you play daily fantasy sports contests in Montana?

No, it is illegal to play daily fantasy sports in Montana. There are some states that have passed laws allowing daily fantasy sports, and many others that have no specific law saying whether DFS is legal and thus in most cases allow residents to play. Then there are states that directly prohibit daily fantasy sports, and Montana is one of those states.

Montana law explicitly defines daily fantasy sports as gambling. The law also outlaws online gambling in Montana, which means you cannot play DFS online in the state. This law is why DraftKings, FanDuel and other daily fantasy sites do not accept players from Montana.

If you try to register for an account on the sites and enter a Montana address, the sites will not let you do so. Nor will the sites even let you play games from Montana on an account you have created somewhere else.

On one positive note for those who really love DFS, the Montana Lottery does run “fantasy games” that are similar to daily fantasy sports, although these games are playable only on terminals located at licensed retailers.

Who regulates Montana sports betting?

The Montana Lottery Commission regulates and oversees all Montana sports betting. Sports betting in Montana was regulated in 2019 when Gov. Steve Bullock signed HB 725 into law. Bets made at sports betting terminals have a $250 maximum. But when using the app, the maximum rises to $1,000.

The tax rate on sports betting revenue is 8.5%. New retailer licenses cost $1,000 annually.

How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Montana?

The legal gambling age in Montana is 18 years old. This includes sports betting, making Montana the state with the youngest age requirement for legal bets.

Online sportsbooks in Montana

The only site allowed to operate in Montana is the lottery app, Sports Bet. No other sports betting site is available in the state because of the betting laws in Montana. That means other legal online sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel or BetMGM cannot operate in the state. That situation could change in the future if lawmakers decide to look again at the possibility of expanding sports betting. For now, here’s what we know about Sports Bet.

Sports Bet Montanasports bet montana

Sports Bet Montana is the single online app available in Montana. Powered by the Montana Lottery with Intralot as a partner, the site and app function like most legal apps in the US. With one exception. The app is location restricted, meaning you have to be at a licensed retailer in order to place a bet in the state. The Sports Bet Montana website provides links to download the sportsbook app for free. There is an app for iOS/Apple devices and another for Android devices. The app provides all of the same functionality, betting options and banking methods as the website.

How to sign up and bet online in Montana

After registering for an account at Sports Bet Montana, users also need to complete a verification process. That involves submitting a copy of a driver’s license, a state ID card or a passport. You must complete the process within 30 days of creating the account.

You can deposit funds and start wagering before completing this verification process, but you cannot withdraw funds until the verification is satisfied.

Sports Bet Montana essentially offers only two methods to deposit funds into an account:

  • Debit card
  • ACH

The site also requires users to register for one depositing method. They can change their depositing method, but only after making sure there is a balance of zero in their account. Changing methods might also require submitting additional documentation to verify the new method.

Users can withdraw funds using the same two methods — a debit card or ACH. Sports Bet Montana requires the same method for withdrawing as you used for depositing. The minimum withdrawal amount is $10. The daily maximum withdrawal allowed is $2,000.

Where can I legally bet on sports in Montana?

When the state initially rolled sportsbooks out in spring 2020, bettors could go to nearly 150 licensed locations to place wagers. Most of these are in bars, taverns or gas stations. Eventually, the plan is to have as many as 2,000 live throughout Montana. You can find a full list of available locations here.

Users can still access the Sports Bet Montana website when not physically located at a licensed retailer. That’s helpful for the betting preparation process, as you can create an account, deposit and withdraw funds, and even select wagers and create betting slips. But in order to actually place those bets, you’ll have to go to one of the licensed locations.

In practical terms, sports betting in Montana works a lot like the lottery does in most states that don’t allow online sales (including in Montana). You have to go to certain locations to place your bets, just like those wishing to purchase lottery tickets have to visit retailers to do so.

What sports can I bet on in Montana?

Bettors have a number of sports from which to choose when making wagers at Sports Bet Montana. These include the following:

Sports Bet Montana offers a variety of common wagering options, as well:

  • Moneyline — A bet on a team or player to win a contest outright.
  • Spread — A bet against the point spread (either “giving” or “getting” points).
  • Total — An “over/under” bet on the total number of points in a game.
  • Parlay — A bet that combines multiple wagers, all of which have to be correct for the bet to win.
  • Round robin — A parlay bet involving multiple wagers that can still win some money even if not all of the picks are correct.
  • Prop bets — A bet on a specific side outcome in a contest, such as how many points a particular player will score.
  • Futures — A bet on the outcome of a future event, such as wagering on which team will win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
  • Live betting — Also called in game betting, a bet made in real time while a game is in progress on certain events with adjusted odds.

Sports Bet Montana offers another type of bet it calls a “banker bet.” This is a round robin bet with at least three selections. From those three, you designate one or more of the wagers as “banker” bets. The designation makes that bet part of every single combination of bets, meaning if the banker bet loses, all combinations lose. Adding the banker bet to a regular round robin bet changes your potential winnings.

Sports Bet Montana offers a couple of other options, as well. These concern instances when you choose a particular bet and have it on your betting slip, but the price changes before you confirm the wager.

  • Accept higher odds — If the price changes after you’ve entered a bet on the slip but before you’ve confirmed it, you automatically accept the higher odds without receiving a price change request.
  • Accept all odds — Just like the above, but if the price changes before you place the bet, you will accept higher or lower odds without a price change request.

Betting on Montana sports teams

Montana is the fourth-largest state in the country by size. But with a population of only a little over a million, it is actually one of the least populated states. Thus it isn’t too surprising that Montana doesn’t have any professional major league sports franchises.

As far as pro teams go, some people in Montana place their allegiance with teams from Seattle, such as:

  • NHL — Seattle Kraken
  • MLB — Seattle Mariners
  • NFL — Seattle Seahawks
  • MLS — Seattle Sounders FC
  • WNBA — Seattle Storm

Some states do not allow wagers on college teams located within the state. That isn’t the case in Montana sports betting, though. This means bettors can place a wager on contests involving teams from Montana colleges and universities.

When it comes to NCAA teams from Montana, the Montana Grizzlies in Missoula and the Montana State Bobcats in Bozeman are the best known in the state. Both compete in the Big Sky conference. They have NCAA Division I teams in basketball and FCS teams in football.

History of sports betting in Montana

The US Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that the federal prohibition against sports betting was unconstitutional. Almost exactly one year later, Gov. Steve Bullock signed a bill into law legalizing sports betting in the state.

The new law authorized the Montana Lottery to oversee sports betting in the state. In essence, the new legislation revised existing lottery laws to include sports wagering. Lawmakers titled the section of the law covering sports betting the “Montana State Lottery Act of 1985 and Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment of 2019.”

Meanwhile, the governor vetoed a second bill that would have allowed the state’s bars and taverns to offer sports betting themselves. There were not enough votes to override the veto.

After several months hammering out regulations and pinning down logistics, Montana took its first legal sports wagers in March 2020.

Months later, controversy was circling. When Montana sports betting was first passed, it included a ruling by the Montana Lottery that sports betting could only happen inside Montana retailers and businesses that serve alcoholic drinks. The Montana Lottery was sued by an investment company in Billings over the strict requirements. A judge finally overturned this rule in November 2020, allowing Montana sports betting to expand beyond businesses that serve alcohol.

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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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