Legal Montana Sports Betting

While Montana was one of the four “exempt” states from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, 1992-2018), the state was only able to offer a very limited form of sports betting in its many famous bars and taverns. These pull tabs and sports pools were essentially themed football lotteries, and they were not even popular enough to stick around very long after PASPA initially went into effect. However, On May 3, 2019, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) signed two bills into law, formally legalizing single-game, Vegas-style sports betting while simultaneously reauthorizing sports pools and tabs in an expanded and more attractive fashion. Now, for sports bettors, Montana offers the best of both worlds with full legal sports betting!

All that said, MT residents can’t actually wager on sports through Montana-based services or operators just yet. While the pastime has been legalized throughout the state, it will take some time to implement all the necessary infrastructural considerations. The passed bills give the Montana Lottery and tavern-based venues up to a year to implement the law, but most analysts are figuring on sports wagering to be available long before that. The best guess for when legal sports betting will go live in Montana is the start of the lucrative NFL season in September 2019. However, this should be viewed as a soft deadline, as delays have been common in other states seeking to roll out online and land-based betting at the same time.

Is Land-Based Sports Betting Legal In Montana?

Yes! Land-based sports betting is legal in Montana, effective May 3, 2019. However, it will take several months before MT residents will actually be able to use these newly-legal avenues to place their wagers. Once publicly-facing sportsbooks are opened, Montana bettors will be able to place proper single-game (i.e. Vegas-style) sports bets over the Internet or at Montana Lottery retail locations via electronic self-serve kiosks. Additionally, sports pools and tabs will be available in all (or most) of Montana’s many hundreds of tavern locations, giving residents a kind of land-based sports betting option. The first books should be up and running in time for the start of the 2019-2020 NFL season, but kickoff could be delayed into next year.

Is It Illegal To Bet On Sports Online In Montana?

No, it is perfectly legal to bet on sports online in Montana! However, you must still do so via an offshore sportsbook operator for the time being if you wish to participate in wagering right now. This is because the Montana Lottery’s online wagering portal and associated mobile app is still several months away from launch, at a bare minimum. The state is trying to ready its Internet-based wagering product in time for kickoff of the 2019 NFL season, but it’s not a sure thing that their online betting service will be ready for primetime by September. (At the very latest, per state law, you will be able to bet on sports via the state lottery’s online portal by April 2020.) 

Is There Anywhere In Montana That I Can I Bet On Sports?

Yes and no. While there isn’t anywhere in Montana that you can bet on sports in a land-based, brick-and-mortar capacity right now (though such is coming soon!), you can wager on sports at online, offshore bookies that accept MT customers. Thus, if you have a computer or mobile device and an Internet connection, you can participate in legal Montana sports betting from anywhere you are inside (and outside) the state.

Where’s The Closest Place To Me To Bet?

For now, the closest place to you to wager on sports in MT is probably wherever you are right this minute. If you’re reading this, you have a computer/mobile device and an Internet connection, and that’s all you need to access legal offshore sportsbooks. However, if you’re after a land-based solution, you’ll have to wait until sports wagering rolls out via the Montana Lottery (online) and at retail kiosks and taverns (brick and mortar). These latter venues are scattered across Montana, so it may be some time before land-based options are available in your area. Stay tuned!

Montana Sports Betting And Gambling Laws

Thankfully, the Montana sports betting and gambling laws are easy to understand. Article III, Section 9 of the Montana Constitution explicitly states that “all forms of gambling…are prohibited” unless allowed for by the legislature or public referendum. Excepted forms of gambling in MT include pari-mutuel horse racing betting, tribal casinos (Class III), charitable bingo and raffles, and the state lottery. Sports wagering is addressed in § 23-5-112(20)(c) of the Montana Code. “Internet gambling” is also barred, but this applies to casino-style card games.

In May 2019, legislation concerning MT betting was signed into law by MT Gov. Steve Bullock (D). The bills, SB 25 and HB 725, include several revisions to Montana’s gambling laws. The Senate Bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Blasdel (R-4), legalizes sports pools and tabs in Montana’s many famed taverns and bar establishments throughout the state. HB 725, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Lynch (D-76) will allow the Montana Lottery to administer a fully-fledged, single-game sports betting product over the Internet, via mobile, and at retail kiosks.

What Teams Can I Bet On?

Obviously, you can bet on whatever teams you wish, as all the top offshore books have action on just about all imaginable US and international sporting events, available 24/7. However, there is strong sports fandom in the state for local NCAA teams, and while there aren’t any major professional clubs in MT, there are strong fanbases for neighboring states’ teams. Best of all, there is no prohibition on any professional or collegiate sports or leagues in Montana’s recently-passed sports wagering laws, and residents will also be able to legally wager on amateur events like the Olympics.

Horse Racing Betting In Montana

Horse racing betting in Montana is legal, as are off-track betting facilities and simulcast wagering. Unfortunately, however, the local horse racing industry is on its last legs in MT, with no permanent track venues. Currently, all races run in the state take place during various county fairs, including at the Great Falls Turf Club and Yellowstone Downs. As such, there are really just a few days of local racing available each year. The good news is that fans of the ponies can also legally use online racebooks at the same offshore sportsbook sites discussed above (BetOnline, etc.). Even better, these books have both American and international horse races on tap just about every day of the year.

Daily Fantasy Sports In Montana

Daily fantasy sports in Montana (commonly called DFS) is currently legal in concept, but the Montana Code specifically outlaws Internet-based DFS services. Since all the major DFS operators are Internet-based entities, DraftKings and FanDuel (and other providers) do not currently operate in the state of Montana. This, along with the current sports betting laws, will likely change in the medium-term future, but until then, MT DFS players are out of luck.

Legal Montana Sports Betting FAQs

Can I Bet Real Money On Sports In Montana?

Yes, you can bet real money on sports in Montana at any of the top offshore sportsbooks that serve the state. All of these sites – Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, 5Dimes, BetDSI, and BookMaker – offer several ways to fund your accounts, and they each have secure services and guaranteed payouts. Real money in, real money out! However, by late 2019, you should also be able to wager real money at Montana’s online Lottery-based sportsbook as well as at kiosks throughout the state. Paid, pari-mutuel sports tabs and pools will be available at most of Montana’s tavern venues, as well.

Is Online Sports Betting Safe In Montana?

Yes, online sports betting is safe in Montana. However, you still need to make sure you use a legal offshore sportsbook like those already listed. While these sites are tried and true and have withstood the test of time with flying colors, there are a lot of smaller, shady brands in the business. Nevertheless, if you go with a top offshore book, you will have a first-class experience all around, and none of them will ever sell your personal information or withhold your payouts.

Will I Get Arrested For Sports Betting In Montana?

No, you will not get arrested for sports betting in Montana, as long as you stick to the offshore betting options outlined on this page (or official state-licensed sites and/or venues once those are opened to the public). These sites are legal, regulated entities that operate in good faith, and nobody has ever had any legal problems with Montana authorities just for placing bets on sports over the Internet. As long as you’re not running a bookmaking scheme, you are good to go!

What Is the Sports Betting Age In Montana?

The legal age to bet on sports in Montana, per state law, is 18 and older. If you are under 18 years old, you will not be able to wager at any of MT’s betting venues. Similarly, you need to be 18 in order to gamble in any of the state’s casinos (or play the lottery, bingo, etc.) 18 is also the minimum age at which you can sign up at all the top sportsbooks, though be warned: Betting underage at any of these services will result in account termination and funds confiscation, as these sites all take their terms of service very seriously.

Are There Mobile Sports Betting Apps Available In Montana?

There are no official mobile sports betting apps available yet in Montana, but that’s only because Apple and Google corporate policies prevent offshore sportsbooks from putting native apps on the App Store or Google Play marketplaces. Nevertheless, you can easily enjoy mobile sports betting by simply using your iPhone or Android to visit any of the wagering sites listed here. Each of them has gone the extra mile to craft customized mobile betting portals that allow you to wager conveniently and quickly, no matter where in Montana (or the US) you happen to be. That said, once online betting formally launches under the administration of the MT state lottery, you will be able to get download official iPhone and Android apps in order to participate in the activity.

Where Is The Best Place To Bet On Sports In Montana?

The best place to bet on sports in Montana – and frankly, the only place to bet on sports in Montana – is right on your smartphone, tablet, or home computer. In that regard, anywhere you are where there’s an active Internet connection constitutes a fine betting parlor. Remember, if you insist on a land-based betting experience, your only option other than online is to hop a plane to Vegas.

Should I Use A Local Bookie In Montana?

Under no circumstances should you use a local bookie in Montana. These bookies are operating illegal businesses and often have ties to organized crime, putting them under the microscope of local law enforcement. You don’t want to get caught up in any police activity, nor do you want to run the risk of your bookie splitting town or simply refusing to pay up. Online sports betting is safer, faster, easier, and far more reliable in every way.

Do Any Casinos In Montana Have Sports Betting?

None of the casinos in Montana currently have sports betting. While a number of these are Class III venues that offer all the Vegas-style gaming you expect from a full-blown casino experience, they do not have sports betting and will not be able to offer it unless the state lottery decides to install official wagering kiosks at these venues (which is a definite possibility).

Is It Legal To Bet On Sports With My Friends In Montana?

It is legal to bet on sports with your friends in Montana, provided you do so for “prizes of minimal value” and that the gaming takes place in a private residence. This explicitly applies to card games, but the text can logically be extended to most all forms of gaming. Nobody has ever gotten in trouble with the law for social, private wagering, and it is safe to view this activity as a form of legal Montana sports betting.