- Montana was the first state in 2019 to sign sports betting into law.
- IGT and the Montana lottery signed a seven-year contract in 2016 that allows IGT to expand their services to offer sports betting.
- The timing of when legal sports betting in Montana will launch is dependent on how soon regulations in the state are finalized.
HELENA, Mont. – Those hoping to place a sports bet in Montana in time for the 2019 NFL season opener are out of luck.
On Tuesday, in a hearing of the State Administrative and Veterans Affairs interim committee, officials said that the launch of sports betting in Montana will likely come at the end of the year or sometime thereafter.
According to the Associated Press, MT Lottery Director Angela Wong told the committee that the timing of the launch depends on when new regulations are finalized.
Wong went on to say that “it’s quite a task to implement” sports betting and that Lottery officials never claimed that they would be ready to offer the activity by the NFL season. That goal was set by MT Representative Ryan Lynch, who sponsored the bill which made sports betting legal.
One of the main areas of concern for state officials is the fact that sports betting will be operated by Intralot, the same company which operates the state’s lottery games. The decision came with controversy, but the Lottery has remained adamant in its approach.
“You’re awarding a contract that’s worth $4.5 million to $6.1 million over the next four years, each year, to a company on a no-bid contract,” said Neil Peterson of the Gaming Industry Association of Montana in July. “I’m hearing rumblings within the industry that should the Commission go ahead and do a no-bid contract…that you could have some litigation over that.”
However, during Tuesday’s hearing, Wong reiterated that a seven-year agreement with Intralot made in 2016 allows the company to add games to its existing offerings.
“The current contract allows room for changes. When it comes to providing gaming services, the Lottery doesn’t contract with individual providers for specific discrete services. Instead, the Lottery has one master contract that covers the whole suite of services,” said Wong.
During the state’s 2019 legislative session, MT Governor Steve Bullock was given two sports betting bills to sign.
MT HB 725 put the lottery in charge of overseeing and operating the new gambling activity. MT SB 330 would have allowed third-party vendors to do business in Montana, but it was ultimately vetoed because Governor Bullock believed it would be best to take a conservative approach to this gaming expansion.
MT HB 725 was signed and MT SB 330 was vetoed, giving the Lottery the final say over sports betting in Montana. The signed piece of legislation also opened the door for establishments with sports wagering to host on-site mobile betting platforms. Implementing those could also complicate and delay the launch of sports gambling in Big Sky Country.
– In his career, Hasan has worked both local and state government positions—including the Attorney General’s Office in Florida. On top of being familiar with the legislative process, he has also been researching and writing on the legality of sports betting across the US. Outside of work you’ll most likely find him producing or playing music, playing sports, or working on creative writing projects. You’ll also catch him at Doak Campbell Stadium cheering on the Noles.