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Is Sports Betting Legal in Montana?Montana is the state known as “Big Sky Country” and a state with big casino action that’s comparable. You don’t have to go very far to hit gold in the Treasure State, where video gaming machines can be found around every corner. In Montana, over 1400 licensed operators put poker, keno, and bingo conveniently right inside of your local tavern and more. Gambling is so much part of the Montana culture that it’s even recognized in its constitution. VGT’s, along with tribal casinos and the new addition of sports betting, shows that Montana is a state with both deep roots and a promising future.

Montana Legal Gambling History

The history of Montana gambling goes back to the days of settlers playing stick games and three-card monte. People were always looking for a big win and the stakes were high thanks to the Goldrush. The state originally recognized gambling as legal, even stating so in its constitution. However, during the 1800s, the crackdowns began and no game was safe, not even bingo. In 1910, the state clamped down and banned all gambling. Yet, players still found ways to get their fix. This is thanks to the state’s many loopholes.

After the prohibition, Montana lawmakers allowed for the decision of legalized table gaming to be left up to each county, in a truly democratic fashion. In 1945, slot machines were able to slide through the cracks, flying under the radar for 5 years until they were banned. This was done by marketing slots under the smooth guise of “trade simulators”.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that new legislation was passed. In 1972, bingo was finally accepted along with raffles and a limited number of card games. And in 1976, the Montana state lottery system was established. In 1985, the Video Poker Machine Act was passed which cleared the path for VGT’s to make their way in and opened the door for Montana’s tribal casinos.

Montana happens to be just one of the 4 states unaffected by PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Participation Act). While still being extremely limited in their abilities, they declined to host any sports betting outside of pari-mutuels race track wagering. This all changed in 2019 when Governor Steve Bullock signed HB 725 into effect, which formally legalized the full-range of sports betting in Montana, leaving its oversight up to the state lottery commission. Currently, the state is laying out the groundwork concerning regulation.

Montana Gambling Legal Status

Montana might be best known for its video game terminals (VGT’s). Establishments who serve alcohol are permitted to house up to 20 VGT’s. These video machines have capped bets at $2 and maximum payouts of $800. Montana is home to over 1400 licensed VGT operators, making them quite accessible and commonplace all around the state.

Social poker is permitted in Montana as long as the pot doesn’t exceed $800. In 2019, Governor Steve Bullock passed legislation to welcome in legal sports betting into the state’s borders. For the time being, players will have to place their legal bets at offshore sports betting websites. This is until all of the regulation is finalized and the state can enter into the sports betting market.

Casino gambling is legal in Montana for players 21 and over. Montana is home to a state lottery and may not be a state especially known for its track racing, yet race track betting is legal.

Montana is pretty lax about their legal gambling age as well. You only need to be 18 years of age to gamble. For bingo and lottery, there is no age limit to play.

Montana Land-Based Casinos

Technically, there are over 140 licensed casino operators in Montana. This may seem like an awful lot, but these numbers can also be a bit misleading.

Not all of Montana casinos are created equal. You’ll find what they have to offer all differing greatly, determined by which class they fall under. For example, an overwhelming number of these licensed operators are only allowed to house VGT’s, or video game terminals, and only up to a limited amount of 20.

The remainder of the 140 plus licenses operators is the 9 tribal casinos. At most of these establishments, you’re sure to find plenty of slots, poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, and more.

Montana’s tribal casinos are:

  • Apsaalooke Nights Casino
  • Charging Horse Casino
  • Fort Belknap Casino
  • Glacier Peaks Casino
  • Gray Wolf Peak Casino
  • KwaTaqNuk Casino Resort
  • Northern Winz Hotel & Casino
  • Northern Winz II
  • Silver Wolf Casino

Montana Legal Daily Fantasy Sports and Sports Betting

Thanks to Governor Steve Bullock, sports betting was made legal in Montana in 2019, through the signing of HB 725. For now, players are limited to placing their sports bets at offshore sportsbooks, while the state lays out the rules and regulations and seeks to enter the sports betting market.

Daily fantasy sports remain illegal and it’s clearly outlined as such in state law. While residents can still take part in the action offered up by the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings, they are restricted from placing real money bets.

Montana Legal Gambling FAQ’s

What forms of gambling are allowed in the state of Montana?

The following are the legal forms of gambling in Montana:

  • Video Game Terminals (VGT’s)
  • Casino games at tribal casinos
  • Social poker
  • Sports betting
  • Racetrack and off-track betting
  • State lottery
  • Charitable gaming such as bingo
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