I might be movin’ to Montana soon. Just to raise me up a crop of…dental floss.
North Dakota licenses Bet America which accepts legal online wagers for horse racing, dog racing and fantasy sports. This is legal for residents of this state (please read their terms and conditions to ensure this has not changed).
Montana Live and Online Gambling Laws
Montana retains its “Wild West” reputation with its unique forms of legalized gambling. It has one of the most liberal gaming policies in the region. This includes casinos, as well as widespread poker and lottery machines.
Poker in Montana
Poker is one of the oldest forms of legalized gambling in Montana. It dates back to the 1800’s in saloons throughout the state. Montana is the only state that permits bars to spread cash games where rake is taken by the house. The licensing process is lenient. The only rules are that a poker table may only be in an establishment that sells alcohol by the drink. A pot may not exceed $800. This was raised from $300 in 2015.
Horseracing in Montana
Yellowstone Downs, located in Billings, is the only racetrack in Montana. There are eight weekends of races each year. The track is otherwise idle. Yellowstone Downs does not offer off-track betting facilities. There are dozens of bars and casinos throughout Montana that do.
The Montana Lottery was approved by voters in November 1986. Scratch-off tickets were first sold on July 24, 1987. Interstate lotto drawings were introduced later. Montana’s lottery offers a unique game called EZPlay. This is where players buy tickets on a kiosk. The machine decides that a prize pool must be won after a certain amount of money is wagered and awards it instantly over the kiosk. This type of lottery game is one-of-a-kind in the United States.
Montana Sports Action
Montana is one of just two states that offer a sports lottery. Montana’s is unique when compared to the one offered in Delaware. Montana’s is based on fantasy betting, while Delaware’s sports lottery is NFL parlay cards.
Montana offers fantasy sports betting on NFL games and NASCAR races. NFL fantasy sports involve a player choosing a quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receiver, kicker and defense. NASCAR races require players to choose five drivers in a pole position that are equal to a certain number of points.
There are big differences between fantasy sports sites like FanDuel and Montana’s Sports Action lottery. Typical daily fantasy sites take a rake of about 10 percent. Montana rakes exactly 26 percent, as required by law.
Daily fantasy sports sites offer a prize pool that is set before a contest is posted. The number of participants does not matter at these sites.
Montana Sports Action is pari-mutuel. Its prize pool is dependent on the number of players that enter lineups. Montana Sports Action only pays the top three players, regardless of the number of entries. Fantasy sports sites typically pay the top 10 or 20 percent of the entries.
Bingo was first legalized in the 70’s. Charities and tribes are able to spread the game. Bingo’s legality spread into video keno. The next step was a statewide video lottery.
Montana Video Lottery
The “Video Poker Machine Act” legalized digital gaming in Montana in 1985. This permitted bars to spread up to five video poker machines. There was no limit on the number of keno machines. The limit to the number of video poker machines was increased to 20 in 1991. The maximum win was $100 at the time. The tax rate was 15 percent of the net win. The maximum win was increased to $800 in 1993.
Montana Tribal Casinos
Video lottery machines are spread throughout Montana. There are advantages afforded to the state’s tribes that give them a slight advantage over bars. Tribal casinos have no cap on the number of machines. No taxes are paid by reservation casinos. Poker is also permitted. House-banked table games are not legal in Montana, meaning you will not find blackjack, craps or roulette in the state.
One big advantage tribal casinos have is that the statewide smoking ban does not apply. Video lottery bars lost 20 percent of revenue when Montana’s smoking ban went into effect. Much of this action found its way to casinos located on reservations.
Montana Sports Pools
Montana is one of just four states exempted from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This federal law went into effect in 1992 and forbids the expansion of sports betting. Montana received the exclusion from PASPA because it had a law on the books permitting sports pools. These may only be offered in taverns. These contests are typically square pools and may not involve any level of skill. Sports, races and even races among animals are permitted in tavern sports pools.
Montana Online Gambling
Montana law specifically makes online gambling illegal. This includes fantasy sports contests, which are legal in most other states. While there are penalties for sites that operate online gambling, players do not have anything to worry about when it comes to playing games over the Internet.
Any site that accepts online poker, casino or sports betting action from Montana players is doing so without a US gaming license. Players should be aware of this fact before making a deposit.
Horseracing enjoys an exemption from Montana’s online gambling ban. Pari-mutuel betting through sites that include TVG and Twinspires is permitted. These wagers are legal online and through mobile apps.