Sports betting is under consideration in the state of Montana with not one, but two bills on the table. One bill originated in the House and the other in the Senate. Both would legalize sports betting but in different ways. One would put the state lottery in charge of offering services via a contractor while the second would allow private operators to offer services.
Details of the bills
House Bill 725 is the one that would allow the Montana Lottery to provide sports betting services via a contractor. The bill was approved in the House and has now entered its first hearing in the Senate. This piece of legislation was introduced in the House by Representative Ryan Lynch.
Senate Bill 330, introduced by Senator Mark Blasdel, would legalize sports betting via licensed private operators. The bill was approved by the Senate and should be introduced in the House soon. Private operators would be able to place kiosks in taverns and other venues that are licensed to offer gambling services in the state.
Representative Ryan Lynch said: “I think it’s an exciting time for sports betting (in Montana). There are a lot of proposals that are being debated up here, and we’ll see what comes out in the final days.”
Under both pieces of legislation, revenues would go to the state’s general fund. It has been estimated that as much as $1.5m (€1.3m) to $2m (€1.7m) a year would be generated from sports betting. With Lynch’s bill, another $3m (€2.6m) to $4m (€3.5m) could be brought in each year. This money could be used for a scholarship fund for education.
With both pieces of legislation, lawmakers would review how sports betting services would be implemented. Under the House bill, the Montana Lottery would work with its current contractor to provide sports betting at locations that are already offering gambling services.
Bettors would be able to go to a facility that has machines to sell Lottery tickets and sports betting options would be provided as well. Owners of the establishments would earn commissions for offering the betting services.
The Senate bill would allow private operators to offer services via licensed facilities, including bars. Kiosks would be installed and offer a variety of sports betting including in-game wagers and more. Net gaming revenues would be taxed at 8.5%. Proceeds would not be taxed and would go to the state after commissions and the contractor receive payment.
According to Blasdel, the Senate bill would be a good option for taverns because it would bring more consumers to their establishments.