Pari-Mutuel Betting 1965
Charity Gaming (Bingo) 1973
Video Gambling Machines/Keno Machines 1991
Tribal Casinos 1997
Fantasy Contests 2008
Sports Betting 2019
Charity Gaming (Bingo) 16+
Video Gambling Machines/Keno Machines/Sports Betting/Fantasy Contests/Lottery/Pari-Mutuel Betting/Tribal Casinos 18+
Video Gambling Machines/Keno Machines Operators 1,400+
Tribal Casinos 7
Gambling in Montana is big business with more than 1,400 licensed gambling operators and over 16,000 video gambling machines.
Montana was the first to legalize keno and video gambling machines (card games including poker) in bars. Fantasy sports and sports betting are only permitted when run by the Montana Lottery.
The term ‘casino’ is a loose term in Montana that refers to any establishment with up to 20 licensed video gambling machines. Tribal casinos are also available in the state. Interestingly, table games, including blackjack, craps, and roulette, are not legal in the state.
Gambling in Montana is regulated by the Gambling Control Division, except for the state lottery and pari-mutuel horse racing.
The Montana Lottery started with scratch tickets, followed by state draws such as Montana Millionaire and multistate draws like Powerball and Mega Millions. Tickets are sold through over 1,000 authorized retailers in the state but cannot be purchased online. The state lottery also offers fantasy sports wagering and sports wagering. Sports Bet Montana provides an iOS and Android app for sports betting.
Montana nonprofit activities include casino nights, raffles, Calcutta auctions, poker runs, and raffles falling under the Department of Justice. Senior citizens are exempted from requiring a gambling license. Registered nonprofits are permitted to sell raffle tickets online.
Horseracing can trace its origins back to the 1800s. Montana law allows live racing and pari-mutuel wagering at licensed racetracks supervised by the Board of Horse Racing. Until the beginning of 2021, simulcast racing was also available.
Advance deposit wagering over a computer and mobile is also permitted, contributing to the decline and end to simulcast racing when the only operator pulled out. In truth, horse racing has been in decline in Montana since the 1985 Video Poker Machine Act. In recent years, an attempt to introduce sports betting and historical horse betting at pari-mutuel facilities to revive its fortunes failed.
Fantasy sports, such as fantasy football and fantasy pari-mutuel race betting, are prohibited in Montana except by the Montana Lottery. According to the Montana Code, wagering by telephone or Internet is not allowed making operators like FanDuel and DraftKings illegal in the state.
Lottery-run sports betting and single sports betting are legal in Montana, found at the larger casinos and lottery kiosks at many bars, taverns, and gas stations. Sports pools are also permitted at bars and pubs through terminals installed by the Lottery Commission.
Montana has seven reservations, of which five have signed compacts with the state allowing them to offer class III gambling. These casinos provide hundreds of slots and video gaming machines.
|Native Tribal Casinos||Address||Website|
|Silverwolf Casino||300 Montana 25 – Wolf Point, MT 59201||facebook.com/SilverWolfCasino/|
|Glacier Peaks Hotel & Casino||46 Museum Loop – Browning, MT 59417||glacierpeakscasino.com|
|Glacier Little Peaks Casino||601 SE Boundry St -Browning, MT 59417||glacierpeakscasino.com|
|Northern Winz Hotel and Casino||11031 US Highway 87 – Box Elder, MT 59521||facebook.com/NorthernWinzHotelCasino/|
|Gray Wolf Peak Casino||27050 US Hwy 93 N – Missoula, MT 59808||graywolfpeakcasino.com|
|KwaTaqNuk Resort Casino||49708 US Hwy 93 East – Polson, MT 59860||kwataqnuk.com|
|Charging Horse Casino||1/2 Mile East On US Hwy 212 – Lame Deer, MT 59043||facebook.com/pages/category/Casino/Charging-Horse-Casino-189169128492265/|
The Montana Constitution of 1889 prohibited all forms of gambling. However, this did not stop gambling holds from sprouting up across the state. Corruption pegged to lottery scandals led to a state charge against gambling. By 1933 pull tabs became prevalent, sold at bars that had opened after prohibition was repealed.
Four years later, in 1937, the Montana legislature passed the Hickey Act legalizing a number of table games based in different locations throughout the state but required licensing by the county.
Eight years later, in 1945, ‘trade stimulators’ (coin-operated slot machines) were authorized for nonprofit organizations. The Montana Supreme Court ruled slot machines and punch boards illegal in 1950. A subsequent attempt to legalize gambling was voted down with a convincing 4-1 margin.
It wasn’t until 1972 that voters approved a constitutional referendum that would give the Legislature the right to decide whether to allow gambling. A year later, it executed this right by passing legislation allowing bingo, raffles, card games, and the Sports Pool Act, with video keno (live bingo) joining in 1976.
In 1984, video poker machines were ruled illegal slot machines by the Montana Supreme Court. The following year, the Video Poker Machine Act was passed, allowing no more than five poker machines at any liquor establishment along with unlimited keno machines. This limit was raised to 20 poker machines in 1991, where it has remained ever since.
In 1986, the Montana lottery was approved. By August 2008, the lottery started offering fantasy sports wagering, and in 2019, Montana passed a Bill allowing sports wagering.
Montana entered into compact negotiations with four Montana Indian tribes in 1994: Rocky Boy, Northern Cheyenne, Crow, and Fort Peck. Three compact talks were unsuccessful, while the fourth compact was voided by then-Gov Racicot claiming violations. It wasn’t until 1997 when interim compacts would be signed with the Kootenai and Confederated Salish Tribes. They would then enter into a five-year gaming compacts in 2001.
In 2003, a proposal to create ‘Destination Montana,’ a Las Vegas-style entertainment district in Butte, was rejected. Two years later, internet gambling was formally declared illegal.
Fast forward to 2017, and HB 578 to legalize blackjack was defeated in the House. In December 2018, HB 475 authorizing pari-mutuel sports betting at pari-mutuel facilities under the Board of Horseracing was introduced by House Representative Brad Tschida. Although it passed the House in March 2019, it failed to pass the Senate and died. In that same year, SB 330, which would have implemented historical horse racing, was delayed.
In May 2019, single-game sports betting through the lottery was legalized (HB 725) after being signed into law by Governor Steve Bullock. The same year, the Senate defeated HB 385, which proposed to legalize blackjack. A similar blackjack Bill in 1991 was also previously rejected.
In December 2020, the Montana Board of Horse Racing’s simulcast partner ended the partnership, ending simulcast horse racing.
Sports betting is legal in Montana. However, it can only be offered by the Montana Lottery.
Montana fantasy sports is not legal over the Internet or mobile. However, the Montana Lottery does offer limited fantasy sports.
Montana pari-mutuel betting is permitted in the state.
No, online gambling in Montana is not permitted.