It's been a grind in Montana but legal sports betting took a huge step forward last Thursday with The Montana Lottery Commission unanimously signing off on draft rules about who can apply for a sports wagering in the state.
Under the unveiled "Sports Bet Montana" platform, businesses such as taverns and casinos that have official betting licenses will be able to take in-person sports bets and create “sports wagering accounts” which would allow them to place bets through their electronic devices.
Reports have as many as 1,400 facilities in Montana qualified to take sports wagers assuming they all clear the regulatory hurdles.
How does Montana benefit?
An influx of tax revenue will be immediate and will be noticeable to the state's coffers. It is estimated that sports betting will raise $1.5 to $2 million in revenue for the state’s general fund and another $3 to $4 million for a school scholarship fund for science and technology learning.
Montana was the 10th state to legalize sports gambling but has yet to reap any of the rewards that come along with a fully functional betting platform. That fact is about to change.
When can we expect to see Sports Betting fully operational?
The biggest step is out of the way and the draft rules are slated to be published December 6 but a timeframe for an actual launch for "Sports Bet Montana" is still up in the air. Businesses must get approved to offer sports betting first, and that process starts in December. Training providers, staff, and bettors on how to use the sports betting kiosks at each licensed location will also be a key factor before the sports betting platform is ready to go.
The Montana Lottery Commission released a statement saying “We have been working since early May to bring the product to the Montana marketplace… We are excited to roll out Sports Bet Montana – but first, we have just a little bit more work to do before we are ready to begin accepting licenses from sales agents to begin offering Sports Bet Montana."
With the NFL and NCAA Football seasons already over half done, Montana has missed out on a big chunk of prime betting time and there appears to be a lack of urgency to get something done by the biggest betting day on the US calendar, Super Bowl Sunday.
While anything is possible, Spring at the earliest looks like a likely date for "Sports Bet Montana" to be up and running.
What's left to do?
Although draft rules have been set and will be released December 6, there are still a number of steps in the process. The number of applications, the fees associated with permits and the lack of a mobile and online betting platform are just a few of the many hurdles still to clear.
Rollout of the legal sports gambling platform in Montana has been slow but with Thursday’s announcement, it is expected to pick up some serious steam in the next couple of months. While Montana may not be able to bet on the 2020 Super Bowl, all expectations are that Sports Betting will be fully operational in the state sooner than later.