• Montana was one of four states that was not barred from sports betting during the years of PASPA.
  • Sports betting bills MT HB 475 and MT HB 725 both passed through the Montana House of Representatives last month.
  • Montana sports betting bill MT SB 330 was passed through the Senate last week.

HELENA, Mont. – Montana lawmakers seem to have their hands full with sports betting proposals. Fortunately for sports bettors, there seems to be general support for each bill that has been introduced during this legislative session so far.

Earlier this week, the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee heard their first testimony on two sports wagering bills that passed through the House last month.

The first one was MT HB 475, which would allow pari-mutuel sports betting under the board of horseracing. This proposal passed through the House with a final vote of 87-9.

The second one MT HB 725, was introduced by Montana Representative Ryan Lynch and would permit sports wagering through the state lottery. The bill passed by a final vote of 88-10 in the House.

“The reason the Lottery makes sense is that it’s already existing. So we have existing infrastructure that’s been already laid out across the state. What this does would allow the Lottery the authority and the opportunity to offer sports wagering within the communities,” said Lynch.

On the other hand, the Senate has already passed a sports betting bill of their own last week and are waiting for the House to review the proposed piece of legislation this week.

MT SB 330, introduced by Senator Mark Blasdel, is similar to the House bill MT HB 475 in that the state would serve licenses to third-party sportsbook operators and allow them to set up betting kiosks at locations that are already licensed for other gambling activities.

Every bill seems to allow for betting on both collegiate and professional sports, doesn’t include provisions for mobile sports wagering, and favors having Montana sports betting take place at local businesses.

“I think for the taverns it’s an exciting thing for them to be able to have another additional way to bring people into their establishments, maybe a different form of customer that they traditionally don’t have,” Said Blasdel.

However, the way that the state would collect revenue on the activity differ.

MT SB 330 would apply an 8.5 percent tax on sportsbook operators, while MT HB 725 would not apply taxes, rather have most proceeds go straight to the state lottery after paying commissions to the establishments that host legal sports betting.

The potential gaming expansion is not expected to bring in tons of money into the state’s budget, but each bill that has been presented has not seen much resistance.

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