Late last week, the Montana Lottery rolled out its proposed sports betting regulations and opened a public-comment period. Montana in May legalized sports betting through its Lottery, with the goal of going live by football season, though that goal has been pushed to late this year or next. The proposed regulations, which outline who can offer and participate in sports betting, as well as detailing licensing procedures, is the first step toward a launch.
The rules were released via the Montana Administrative Register on Friday, and a public hearing has been set for 10 a.m. MT on Oct. 28.
The Montana Lottery estimates it has 1,400 potential vendors who could apply for sports betting licenses, which are available to any lottery vendor who is licensed by the Lottery, has a gambling operators’ license, and has an alcoholic beverage license. Sports betting in Montana will differ from that in other states in that there will be no true “physical locations” for sports betting — the Lottery will provide kiosks to licensed partners, but there will be no sportsbook at any location. In addition, would-be bettors will be able to place bets on their mobile devices if they are within range of a kiosk, and can register remotely.
Self-exclusion, self-limiting programs
Montana was the first state in 2019 to legalize sports betting.
Bettors will be able to manage their accounts through their Lottery app, or can choose to claim winnings of $600 or less from a sales agent. Winnings of $600 or more must be claimed directly through the Lottery, either by mail or in person.
APNewsBreak: Montana becomes the first state in 2019 to authorize sports betting.
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) May 3, 2019
Lottery partners will get a six percent commission on the value of every ticket sold for sports betting, which is one percent more than selling a lottery ticket. Bettors must be 18 years of age.
In the proposed rules, the Lottery goes to great lengths to describe self-exclusion and self-limiting options, including giving bettors the option to limit their bets by the amount deposited or spent, or based on timing parameters.
Another rule is that if an account is created and left dormant for 18 months, it will be suspended by the Lottery. The idea behind this is two-fold — according to the proposed regulations, the 18-month time period would allow a bettor who only bets on a single event once a year to keep an active account for that event, but then also allows the Lottery to shut down accounts so they cannot be used fraudulently.
There was nothing unusual in the proposed regulations, though vendors will only have to pay a $50 application fee for a sports betting license, which, compared to most other states, is a tiny amount. The proposed rules also allow that if a business changes locations and meets the prescribed requirements, the sports betting license can move with the business.
MT could have commercial sports betting in future
Montana lawmakers initially brought three proposals to the state legislature — the Lottery bill, a commercial sports betting bill, and a parimutuel sports betting bill. Both the Lottery and commercial bills made it to Governor Steve Bullock’s desk, but be signed only the Lottery bill, saying, “For the market to succeed, Montana needs to enter the sports wagering market conservatively-adopting only one of the two models now. If, in two years, the market can tolerate more entrants, then I fully expect the legislature will revisit whether a second model is prudent for our state.”
Montana lawmakers have failed to override a Gov. Steve Bullock veto of a bill that would have allowed private companies to run sports betting operations after the governor favored a separate measure using the state lottery. https://t.co/5VcPt1kvCT
— Great Falls Tribune (@GFTribune) June 12, 2019
The initial goal once the Lottery bill was signed was a football-season launch. That goal assumed that the Lottery would extend Intralot’s contract to include sports betting, but in recent weeks, lawmakers have said they believe the Lottery must open a Request for Proposal to review bids for the sports betting contract. In connection with a dispute on this issue, there may be further delay with the Lottery’s rollout.
Washington, D.C., which also legalized sports betting through its lottery, attempted to give its sports betting contract to Intralot without an RFP, and the city is now in court after an app developer sued, claiming the process was illegal.