- Montana will finally begin constructing sports betting kiosks on Monday.
- It is unclear how soon these kiosks will be able to accept bets.
- Montana is a small state in terms of population, but its sports betting industry could still be worth hundreds of millions.
HELENA, Mont. – The Montana Lottery is set to begin statewide construction of MT sports betting kiosks on Monday. It is not yet clear how many kiosks will be built or how long construction will take.
Technically, sports betting in Montana launched back in December, but it was more of a symbolic launch that lacked the necessary physical infrastructure. With kiosks under construction, the process of an actual launch is now underway.
There is not yet a set date for when these kiosks will begin accepting bets. Once construction is complete, the Montana Lottery will begin training sales agents to operate the kiosks.
Over 100 sales agents have already received a state license, but no announcement has been made regarding how long either the installation or training processes may take.
Over 1,400 establishments throughout Montana qualify for a sports betting license. The only requirements are that an establishment has both a license to serve alcohol and a license to offer other lottery products.
Unfortunately for consumers, mobile betting in Montana will be geo-fenced to the physical location of the sports betting kiosks.
The Road To Montana’s Sports Betting Launch
Although Montana was the first state to pass sports betting legislation in 2019, opposition from powerful parties and an overall lack of preparedness delayed launch efforts.
After passing House Bill 725 to legalize sports betting back in May 2019, Montana lawmakers have faced several legal challenges to a full launch, including a lawsuit from the Arete Group challenging Montana’s criteria for an establishment’s eligibility to receive a sports betting license.
There was also some controversy over the actual operation of a sports betting industry. The wording in a past contract with gaming company Intralot gave it jurisdiction over any new lottery games introduced in Montana.
Many residents and lawmakers would have preferred that the Lottery shop its sports betting contract with multiple operators to ensure that Montana gets the best possible deal, but the contract language was legally binding.
While it likely would have been in Montana’s interests to launch sports betting prior to the start of the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, as other states like Michigan and Illinois are attempting to do, the odds of that happening are remote. The tournament is scheduled for a March 17 tip-off.
It will likely be a month or more before Montana residents can place bets.
Economic Impact of Sports Betting In Montana
With all the challenges in launching the sports betting industry and the fact that it will be limited to retail locations, Montana sportsbooks likely won’t reach their full revenue potential for a year or more. But by using national per capita estimates, it is still possible to perform an economic impact analysis.
In states that offer sports betting and do not profit disproportionately off betting tourists (i.e., excluding Nevada and New Jersey), sportsbooks handle $149.64 per person, on average.
Montana has the ninth-lowest population of any state, at just over one million people. Using this average, Montana sportsbooks project to handle $158.9 million in bets annually.
The national average for hold rate, or the percentage of bets that books convert into revenue, is 6.97%. Montana operators would, therefore, project to earn $11.1 million in annual revenue.
With a sports gambling tax of 8.5%, the state would collect $941,500 from these revenues.
With a dual background in English and sports performance and business analytics, Carter aims to write stories that both engage and inform the reader. He prides himself on his ability to interweave empirical data and traditional narrative storytelling. When he isn’t keeping readers up to date on the latest sports betting legal news, he’s banging his head against a wall regretting his decision to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan.