Montana Judge Denies Request to Pause Sports Betting Licensing ProcessPublished February 4, 2020 by Elana K
Arete Group LLC filed a lawsuit claiming that the regulations allowing only bars and taverns to offer sports betting are not fair. The company requested an injunction to stop the licensing process until the lawsuit is settled.
An injunction that requested to pause the licensing process for Montana sports betting operators has been denied by a local judge. The injunction came as part of a lawsuit that was filed by the investment company, Arete Group LLC, which claims that the new regulations allowing only bars and taverns to offer sports betting are not fair. The company asked the judge to pause the licensing process until the lawsuit is resolved, but the judge denied the request, and both will continue at their own pace.
Why the Lawsuit?
Arete Group was peeved because in the bill signed by Gov. Steve Bullock, it was not clear that sports betting would be limited to bars and taverns - the company expected it to also be legal in bingo halls. However, the bill did stipulate that the Montana Lottery will be overseeing the licensing process, and it was this body that decided to place limitations on the locations that sports betting will be allowed.
According to the Montana Lottery, the reason for this limitation is due to Montana law, which states that gambling licenses can only be granted to operators that already have liquor licenses. Bingo halls are the exception to the rule - they are allowed to offer bingo and keno without an alcohol license. However, the Montana Lottery maintains that without that alcohol license, bingo halls cannot expand the scope of their current offerings to include sports betting.
In the lawsuit filed by Arete Group, the court is being asked to allow bingo halls to apply for Montana sports betting licenses even without having alcohol licenses.
It Pays to Work Quickly
Montana sports betting was approved in May 2019 and it was initially thought that it would be up and running by the Super Bowl. While those hopes have been dashed, the Montana Lottery is working hard to ensure that the system will be ready to go as fast as possible. Projections say that sports betting can generate revenue of $3.7 million a year, which is a pretty good reason to work quickly.