The Montana Lottery on Thursday finally approved the state’s sports betting rules that will govern Montana’s state-run sports wagering program whenever it ultimately launches.
According to Great Falls CBS affiliate KRTV, the announcement took place after the latest regularly-scheduled meeting of the Montana Lottery was held in Helena. It was there that the Lottery also announced the name of its new sports wagering product as “Sports Bet Montana” and said regulators would be ready to accept applications from eligible sales agents by the end of the year.
"We’ve been working hard since May to create and build Sports Bet Montana,” said Lottery director Angela Wong said in a press release according to the same report.
In May, Montana was the first state to legalize sports betting in 2019 and ninth overall after the landmark 2018 Supreme Court decision overturned the decades-long federal ban on sports betting a year prior.
Montana’s sports betting law permits wagering at bars and restaurants as well as kiosks and convenience stores. Additionally, the bill tasked the Montana Lottery with overseeing betting action in the state, and mobile betting is not part of the program.
Some consider the lack of online betting a huge mistake in regard to potential revenue for the state. After all, New Jersey quickly ascended to consistently rival Nevada for monthly revenue totals largely because of its vast assortment of online wagering options.
In fact, mobile betting in New Jersey accounts for over 80 percent of the total handle in the state month-over-month while states that took the same route as Montana in regards to legalizing in-person betting only have seen far lesser results come through.
Still, it does appear Montana is inching toward its goal.
While sports betting was legalized over six months ago, the lack of competition in the state combined with the slow-moving government machinations that just now got around to naming its product, left Montana bettors without a way to make bets during the busiest betting season of the year.
While other states tried desperately to launch their products before the start of the NFL and college football seasons in September, Montana seemed content to have their sports betting program off and running in time for next year’s football season.
That was all but sealed over the summer when state lawmakers failed to override Gov. Steve Bullock’s veto of a separate sports betting bill that would have allowed private companies to employ sports gambling operations in addition to the Lottery.
Regardless, it does appear Montana regulators are finally making progress toward implementing its sports betting program.