The United States is quickly becoming a country that is keener on sports betting. In May 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States has overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act or PASPA of 1992 which allowed each state to decide on the fate of local sports betting. The SC has made sports betting federally legal and since then, over 20 states have already made the local operations of bookies legal.
Montana is one of the states that has signed betting into law and has also launched it. The state legalized this back in 2019 but it was only March of this year when the first wagering went live. In-person and online betting are both allowed in the state. However, online betting can only take place within a licensed establishment or retailer.
This makes Montana still a bit behind when it comes to sports betting revenues. People nowadays prefer betting online while they watch sports at home. All Star bookies are quickly flooded by sports fans every time a big event is on. People just don’t travel anymore to place their bets especially now that there is a pandemic. Whether Montana will completely allow online betting outside licensed establishments in the future is still hard to predict.
When it comes to the issuing of licenses, the Montana Lottery would only allow retailers with alcohol licenses around the state to apply for one. This means if an establishment doesn’t carry an alcohol license, they can’t be allowed to apply for a sports betting license.
Recently, this rule was overturned by the Lewis and Clark County District court. The court found that the rule ran contrary to what the lawmakers intended when they allowed sports betting in Montana in 2019. The court started to look into this when the said rule was challenged by the Arete Group which is a Billings limited liability company.
District Judge Kathy Seeley has found that the Montana Lottery ran the rules contrary to what the lawmakers intended when it required applicants to have an alcohol license. The judge said, “If the Legislature intended to limit sports wagering facilities in this way, the Legislature could have done so, The Court will not insert a provision that the Legislature omitted.”
The attorney who filed the lawsuit is Mr. Lyndon Scheveck. He said in an interview that he was working on launching a business that will offer sports betting to the locals. Because of the court’s decision, he will now have more leeway to launch the business without having to wait for an alcoholic beverage license. However, he also said that he would eventually still like to go that route.
Scheveck also said in the interview, “It’s a win for Montanans when it comes to communities and not letting monopolies take advantage of Montanans and their businesses.”
Jennifer McKee, the spokeswoman for Montana Lottery initially said that they were reviewing the judge’s decision regarding this rule. When this made the news McKee only said, “This is an important decision. We’re reviewing it closely and we are in the process of determining our next steps.”
However, a few weeks after this, the Montana Lottery has already announced that they won’t challenge the said ruling. McKee said that even with the beverage rule overturned, the ML officials believe that the state could continue in the tradition of controlled and responsible expansion of lottery gaming.
She said, “Removing one section of just one part of our licensing requirements doesn’t meaningfully disrupt the entire foundation.”
McKee also said that the requirements in Montana also prohibit anyone from operating a business that would heavily rely on lottery sales for income. To be allowed, the business should offer food and beverage or other product in addition to lottery sales.
Now, even if Montana hasn’t been earning as much as other states are when it comes to sports betting, the state has already garnered around 531,000 US dollars in betting revenue from approximately 250 businesses across the state.
In total, the locals of the said state have already wagered a total of 9.7 million US dollars. The punters have also collected a total of 8.5 million US dollars in winning at that time. With those numbers, the state has generated over 1.2 million US dollars in funds.
These funds are now allotted for the STEM scholarships that are offered to Montana high school graduates who will be attending in-state public or tribal colleges. A portion of the revenue
will also go to the state’s general fund.