• SB 330 was introduced by Senator Mark Blasdel.
  • Montana looks to support land-based and online sports wagering.
  • Montana is one of the few states in the Western US to construct a sports betting bill.

HELENA, Mont. – The “Montana Sports Betting Act” was discussed for the first time in the Senate’s Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee after being introduced last week.

Introduced by Senator Mark Blasdel (R- Kalispell), Senate Bill 330 became just another piece of legislation across the country introducing the possibility of legal sports wagering; however, it was the first for the Montana Senate and nobody was opposed of the bill.

Under the provisions of the bill, sports betting would be permitted at licensed gambling establishments, being overseen and regulated by the Montana Department of Justice Gambling Control Division.

The formation of the industry would create four jobs at the department paid for by the tax contributions associated with sports wagering.

The Meat And Potatoes Of Montana Sports Betting

According to the bill’s text, 8.5% of the licensed sportsbook’s adjusted gross receipts would be taxed. This is on top of a $1,000 annual licensing fee and a $100 betting kiosk fee.

If passed, wagering on both professional and collegiate teams would be permitted without any restrictions and the act would be in effect starting June 1, 2020.

This timeframe would allow for the Gambling Control Division to implement policies and regulations. According to the department, it would also provide enough time to train staff, test sports betting software, and promulgate rules.

Don’t Forget About Mobile Betting

An online sports betting platform was the only controversy during the bill’s opening discussion. Both sides of the argument are in support of online betting; however, some believe it should be accessible all over the state, while others believe the platform should only be accessible from the gambling establishments.

A similar online betting style has successfully taken place in Mississippi over the last few months where players can only submit a wager from their phone when they are physically located at the casino.

The Executive Director of the Gaming Industry Association of Montana, Neil Peterson, made it known that he supported the opposite side of the argument.

“We would suggest that if you want to maximize revenue, allow mobile betting to happen on a statewide basis,” said Peterson.

Boosting revenue is vitally important but so are the local businesses who could support an online betting platform. Sportsbook companies would be allowed to install gambling machines in bars that link into the online platform and the liquor-selling bars would receive 5% of the income from legal sports betting.

“If we pass this bill it will give a boost in the arm to a lot of small towns across the state of Montana,” said John Iverson of the Montana Tavern Association.

The online discussion and others will continue to move the possibilities of legal Montana sports betting forward. The best part? The Legislature comes back in six months and could address any problems, should they arise.

“This is already something that is happening with a lot of folks,” said Senator Blasdel. “Unfortunately, it’s in the black market now.”

Blasdel’s hope is that the state is wise enough to see the overall benefits of legalizing sports betting.

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