Sports betting will not be coming to Montana until the end of 2019 and perhaps even longer.
Angela Wong, the Montana Lottery Director, informed an interim legislative committee on Tuesday that the timing of the launch of legalized sports betting all depends on the new regulations that will have to be implemented and finalized.
Back in May, Montana legalized sports betting following the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in 2018 that signaled states could permit it.
Democratic Rep. Ryan Lunch of Butte sponsored the Montana sports gambling bill. He told the Independent Record of Helena that the goal for this bill was to give customers the option to make wagers by the start of the NFL season.
But Thursday night saw the kickoff of the new season with the Green Bay Packers beating the Chicago Bears and there is a full slate of games Sunday and Monday.
Wong told officials that it is “quite a task to implement” sports betting. According to the Associated Press, she said that lottery officials never promised that sports betting would be available in the state in time for Week 1 of the NFL regular season.
There were many concerns from Republican state lawmakers during a hearing of the State Administrative and Veterans Affairs interim committee. This group said it worried about the how the Montana Lottery plans to launch sports betting via its current deal in place with Intralot.
The Montana Lottery put out bids for the gaming contract five years ago and started a seven-year deal with Intralot in 2016, before the state legalized sports betting.
Wong pointed out, according to the Independent Record, that the deal with Intralot included possible future gaming opportunities including sports wagering.
Republican state representatives Forrest Mandeville and Dee Brown said that they both wanted to force a vote for the Montana Lottery to launch a process for other companies aside from Intralot to bid on a contract for sports betting.
Wong said the Montana Lottery won’t begin new deals. Instead, the lottery makes it a requirement that its current vendor can place them.
"The current contract allows room for changes. When it comes to providing gaming services, the Lottery doesn't contract with individual providers for specific discrete services. Instead, the Lottery has one master contract that covers the whole suite of services," Wong said.
The structure of the law passed in Montana does not allow for a mobile sports betting option.
The Montana Lottery draws in its revenue from ticket sales and license fees as well as unclaimed prizes. Furthermore, the Montana Lottery is tasked with paying for its prizes, ticket costs, commission and its operating costs while the rest of the funds made are sent across the state’s government.
This is a messy situation in Montana. Between the current contract with Intralot and disagreements regarding implementation, potential football bettors in the state are missing out.