Montana Governor Approves Sports Betting BillPublished May 7, 2019 by Elana K
Montana Governor Steve Bullock has signed a bill to legalize sports betting, making Montana the ninth state to jump on the sports betting wagon and the first to do so this year.
On Friday, Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed a bill to legalize sports betting, making it the ninth state to jump on the sports betting wagon and the first to do so this year. The bill allows for traditional and mobile sports betting through a system of kiosks and mobile apps, overseen by the state's lottery. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ryan Lynch, would like to see the system up and running by September 2019 — aka, football season.
Two Bills, One Signed
Lawmakers presented Gov. Bullock with two different sports betting bills, with the option of signing both. Bullock decided to sign only one, stating that if the market can “tolerate more entrants” in two years, he’s willing to revisit the second model. The bill he signed gives the Montana Lottery full control over all betting, while the bill he vetoed allowed for a free-market system. The upside of allowing the lottery to control the betting system, according to Bullock, is that it already has a full infrastructure in place and is heavily regulated.
The approved bill allows licensed bars and restaurants to have kiosks and mobile apps in which customers can place bets when they’re on the premises. However, betting can only take place when customers are physically in the restaurant or bar; once they leave, betting is restricted. (As opposed to mobile betting in New Jersey, which can take place anywhere within state borders.)
Montana lottery officials project that people will place more than $65 million in bets in the first year alone, and up to $87 million in bets by the year 2023. A small percentage of that will go toward state revenue, but even a small percentage is a few million dollars. And if betting revenue continues to grow, so will state tax revenue.