Montana Gambling Laws
Montana has some of the nation’s most-liberal laws on charity and social gambling, and the state offers tribal casinos, horse racing betting, and a state-lottery. Moreover, 1400 licensed “operators” (bars and other licensed premises) are authorized to offer up to 20 video poker machines anywhere alcohol is served. Montana happily issues licenses to those wishing to host social or home poker games.
|Gambling Type||Legal Land-Based||Legal Online|
|Fantasy Sports (DFS)||Yes||No|
Montana Gambling Tax Rate
Montana has a 6.9% state tax on gambling winnings.
Large wins attract Federal taxes.
Montana Gambling Age
ALL forms of legal gambling in the state of Montana require players to be at least 18 years of age.
Montana Sports Betting Laws
Despite the May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision (when the State of New Jersey won its case to overturn a generation-old nationwide ban since 1991 on sports betting), there is are still no major forms sports betting available in the state of Montana. However, this is more to do with choice and the widespread nature of Montana’s small and sparse population, than any problem with passing state gambling laws on legal sports betting in Montana.
Sports Betting in Montana
Montana is one of only 4 states (along with Delaware, Nevada, and Oregon) who were grandfathered out of the aforementioned Federal ban on sports betting. Montana has the right to legally offer sports betting but until now has not decided to exercise its right, and sports gambling in Montana is limited to fantasy football and motor racing events where players bet on particular players or drivers, and the games are administered under the auspices of the state lottery authorities.
Online Sports Betting in Montana
In Montana, sports betting online is illegal as it is one of the few states that has acted to specifically outlaw online gambling in the state.
Online casino laws, and associated online sports betting laws were updated in Montana in 2005 and the phrase “internet gambling” in section 23-5-112 of the Montana Code specifically notes that it is illegal to run an online gambling operation within the Big Sky state.
Moreover, Montana is one of just a few states that prohibit online daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting. Section 23-5-802 of the Montana Code states that “it is unlawful to wager on a fantasy sports league by telephone or internet.”
As a result, horse racing betting is the only legal form of gambling online available in the state of Montana at the current time. State law specifically states that online horse racing betting is legal in Montana.
Casinos in Montana
Depending on your definition of a casino, Montana has either 14 Tribal Casinos, or those 14 casinos PLUS literally hundreds of other places to gamble that can be loosely termed casinos.
Montana’s Land-Based Casinos
Virtually any place that serves alcohol by the glass will have video lottery machines that have video poker and keno. Licensed bars may have up to 20 video lottery machines. Larger taverns have can also offer their patrons race books and a poker table. As previously mentioned, there are 14 Native American Montana casinos within the state borders. The only major difference between taverns and Indian casinos are that tribes may have more than 20 machines and certain slot machines are allowed are allowed in the Tribal Casinos.
Overall, the Tribal Casinos offer Montana’s residents and visitors more than 5000 slots throughout the state and just a handful of table games.
Online Casinos in Montana
As mentioned above, Montana is one of only a handful of states to specifically prohibit online casino play by enacting state law making the practice illegal.
Consequently, we advise Montana’s Online players to stick to the legal online horse-racing betting options ONLY and abstain from playing ANY online casinos (either U.S. and/or off-shore online casinos) until state legalization of online casinos takes place.
Horse Racing Betting in Montana
Residents of, and visitors to the state of Montana have a great variety of legal options for on course and off-track betting locations and online horse racing betting sites. Horse Racing Betting in Montana is overseen by the Montana Department of Commerce and administered by the Montana Board of Horse Racing.
Track Side: The state is home to three racetracks and races are usually held throughout the late summer months. In addition, various locations and numerous county fairs throughout the state offer one-off annual race meetings.
Off-Track Betting (OTB): Given the state’s small and sparse population, the State of Montana offers a surprisingly generous network of 8 OTB locations throughout the Big Sky State.
Online Betting on Horse Racing in Montana: All of the major online horse racing betting sites operating in the United States accept customers from the Big Sky State of Montana and offer real money betting action on the big U.S. races like the Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown, Arkansas Derby, etc. International horse racing betting worldwide on lucrative championship races are all available online for Montana residents and visitors.
Montana’s Daily Fantasy Sports Law
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) competitions are understood and interpreted by U.S. Federal Laws not to be games of chance, and conversely, considered to games of skill-and-knowledge.
Subsequently, at the Federal level of government, DFS competitions ARE NOT considered to be gambling. Each state has been empowered by Federal lawmakers to decide on the legality of DFS competitions.
As mentioned above, Montana is one of the few states to go against the grain of the Federal ruling and prohibit the usual form of DFS competition.
Montana has its own form of Fantasy Football and Fantasy NASCAR competitions that are administered by the state’s lottery. (Please see below for an explanation of the unique form of Fantasy Sports on offer in Montana).
As for the nationwide DFS games, the Montana State Legislature did make a failed attempt to pass Senate Bill 25 in late 2016 with the following compromises;
- The ‘buy in’ is no more than $35.
- The games are played for minimal, non-monetary prizes such as t-shirts.
- They last for an entire season (In other words, no Daily fantasy contests)
That ‘watered-down’ attempt to pass Fantasy Sports failed in the Big Sky State and for the meantime, Montana operates its own unique Fantasy Sports competition run through the State Lottery.
Montana’s Weekly Fantasy Sports Football and NASCAR
Every day, tens-of-millions of DFS players nationwide in the United States choose real-life athletes to form a fantasy team and collect points based on the athlete’s real-life performances across all the major leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB, NCAA, MMA and even PGA Golf) to win huge million-dollar prizes.
The Montana Fantasy Sports Model is slightly-less-ambitious in its scope and number of sports on offer. Owned-and-operated by the Montana State Lottery, the only Fantasy Sports on offer in the state are NFL and NASCAR.
Fantasy Sports Players pay a small entry fee at their local lottery retailer (In Montana, Fantasy sports are not available online), and choose up to 5 NFL players or 5 NASCAR Drivers (identified by their car numbers) for their teams. After you build your team, you may choose an amount to wager – $5, $10, $20, $50, or $100. The amount you wager will then determine the number of shares of prize money you will receive if you win.
Just like the nationwide Fantasy Sports competitions, during the real-world events, your team in Montana Fantasy Football or NASCAR accumulates points based on the individual performances of the athletes and drivers across the weeks NFL games or NASCAR races.
At the end of the week’s fixtures or races, the team that has the most points wins their corresponding league for the week and prizes are awarded from the entry pool money.
Of course, with only a small pool of players in Montana paying entry fees, the amounts of prize money on offer is much less than the big national DFS competitions. On the other hand, with a smaller pool of players, if you have the skill, there is arguably more potential to win more often in the Montana State Lottery’s Fantasy Sports NFL and NASCAR competitions.
Poker Laws in Montana
Live Poker is available in Montana, with just a few tables available at some of state’s Tribal Casinos and a few licensed card rooms. Under Montana Law, all forms of Poker available (Omaha, No-Limit Hold’em, Texas Hold’em, No-Limit Texas Hold’em, Stud, Sit-n-go, Five Card Draw among others) are subject to a maximum $2 bet and a $800 payout.
Home ‘social’ poker games are permitted in Montana as long as the organizer, host or proprietor is not profiting from the game.
Video Poker is widespread throughout Montana and more than 1400 licensed “operators” (bars and other licensed premises) are authorized to offer up to 20 video poker machines anywhere alcohol is served. Tribal Casinos can offer more than 20 video poker machines to their patrons if they wish.
Online Poker Laws in Montana
Online Poker is strictly prohibited under section 23-5-112 of the Montana Code. Please see above sections ‘Online Sports Betting in Montana’ and ‘Online Casinos in Montana’ for further details.
Montana eSports Betting
eSports, once sports betting becomes legalized in Montana, will provide a younger generation of tech savvy gamblers with a contemporary form of sports betting that is unsullied by an association with the days of illegal sports gambling in the state.
‘eSports’ – the fastest growing form of sports betting worldwide
eSports (or otherwise known as ‘competitive gaming’) is the fastest growing genre of sports entertainment in the world today.
Professional gamers play video games against each other in front of an online audience of millions, and tens-of-thousands more watching the events live in packed purpose-built stadiums.
The sport has evolved from the one-time underground LAN gaming community to rise to become a mainstream sport. Players compete for glory in worldwide tournaments that are offering prize money in the millions. The exponential growth in the sport has by no coincidence has exploded with the developments live video streaming technology.
Betting interest in eSports seemingly increases each month across the world and international sportsbooks offer betting odds on all the big global eSports tournaments.
Fortnite, Overwatch, and Starcraft II are just some of the most popular games that the big-money pro teams compete in. Each week, there seems to be a new game like the recently released Rocket League with associated tournament program world and a plethora of sports bettors cashing in on the available betting platforms. Coming soon to a legalized sportsbook in Montana near you.
Legal Gambling’s Benefits to Montana
- Gambling is important to growing the state’s budget income and provides the state of Montana revenue streams to pay for improvements in education, health and daycare programs, policing, fire protection and parks, roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects.
- Montana’s Tribal Casino industry has created hundreds of jobs for Native American people living on Tribal lands.
- In the last fiscal year, $41 million of tax revenue was raised from an estimated $130 million of statewide gambling revenue.
- More than 3400 people are directly employed in the Montana gambling sector.
- The Gaming Industry Association of Montana helps businesses become more profitable-and-efficient.
History of Gambling in Montana
1889; Montana’s First Constitution decidedly anti-gambling due to the many illegal lotteries in the ‘Wild West’.
1937; The Hickery Act allows individual counties in Montana to rule on table games.
1945-50; Slot Machines legal in Montana.
1950; Montana’s voters reject legalizing gambling.
1973; Charitable Gambling legalized in Montana.
1985; Video Poker Legalized in Montana.
1987; State Lottery begins in Montana.
1994; Montana’s first Tribal Casinos open their doors.
2008; Online Gambling made illegal under section 23-5-112 of the Montana Code.
2016; DFS legalization bill Senate Bill 25 rejected by state legislators.