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Montana Moving Forward with Sports Betting Licensing Process

December 17, 2019

Back in May of this year, the Montana state legislature successfully passed sports betting legislation that will allow its residents to legally bet on sports. By doing so, the state became one of 17 states to already have sports betting legislation in place.

The House Bill (H 725), which was signed by Governor Steve Bullock back in May, made clear that Montana would be taking a cautious approach to the implementation of sports betting within the state’s borders. Under the new law, the state’s lottery commission will oversee the licensing process with a limited number of kiosk licenses expected to be granted along with online sports betting access.

According to a press release from the Governor’s office back in May:

"For the market to succeed, Montana needs to enter the sports wagering market conservatively, adopting only one of the two models now. If, in two years, the market can tolerate more entrants, then I fully expect the legislature will revisit whether a second model is prudent for our state."

The reference to two models had to do with another bill that the Governor rejected in favor of this one.

After passing the bill, there were administrative objectives to which regulators still needed to attend. Part of this process includes determining the criteria that would be used from which sports betting bookmaking operations would be granted licensing.

This past week, the state’s leading gambling authority announced it was ready to start accepting applications for sports betting licenses. The process begins after the gambling authority had ample opportunity to consult with the public regarding expectations.

Given that potential licensees will need to meet a laundry list of criteria in order to be granted licensing, the process is likely to take several months. Since Montana does not permit land based casino gambling, sports betting kiosks will be the primary option. There is also a provision in the law that ties sports betting licenses to liquor licenses. Any of the 1400 bars and taverns that currently have liquor licenses will be eligible to apply for a sports betting license.

After the licensing application deadline hits, the state will provide a shortlist of approved recipients, who will them be required to go through a training process while the requisite sports betting equipment in installed. When everything is in place, Montana is expected to become the 13th state to actually start taking sports wagers.


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