Sports Betting Soon to Come to Montana?

The lawmakers from the state of Montana announced that they will introduce three new sports betting bills…

…which will be heard by legislature somewhere in February.

In this small state in the western part of the US, three different organizations are expected to write the bills: The Coin and Slot Route Operators, the Board of Horse Racing and Intralot, which is in charge of the state’s lottery.

Lawmakers are yet to decide if they’re going to accept one of them or make the unique bill by combining all three of them.

What Do Casinos Want?

Of course, owners of Montana’s casinos would like to see legal sports betting in the state as soon as possible. The only problem is how to implement it. Should it be through casinos only…

…or will the wagers be able to place their bets via their mobile phones?

“With us having simulcast (horse racing) and now the fantasy sports, it was basically like, ‘We’re ready to rock kind of right now, ready to go,” said Kirk Dehler, owner of the Enterprise Casino in Billings.

“It’s been a really good thing to get people in the door. It’s just having that little niche that brings people in the door and keeps them around,” he added.

Enterprise Casino is the only Billings casino that offers pari-mutuel horse race wagering. But, it isn’t the thing that brings the most money to the casino. It only builds the customer base.

The plan is to put kiosks inside of the Enterprise casino…

…and connect them to out-of-state sportsbook, so the players will have to come in and place their bets and then use their phones while they’re inside.

“What they call geofencing. So they’ll geofence the casino, and you can come in with your tablet or cell phone and deposit money through a debit card or cash, but you have to be in confines of that establishment,” Dehler said.

A Word from MTA

On the other hand, the MTA has a negative opinion when it comes to the mobile sports betting.

“We want to see sports betting grow the Montana economy,” said John Iverson, the MTA’s government affairs lead counsel.

“If we allow full mobile, Internet-based sports gambling, you’re going to take a big chunk of Montana money and send it straight out of state. There’s not a significant amount of tax revenue that comes from sports betting, and so where the state’s going to win is to create more commerce in Montana, create more jobs in Montana,” he added.

What About Taxes?

The final decision about on-site vs mobile gambling could depend on tax rates in Montana. For example, sports betting tax is lowest in Nevada at 6.75%, while Delaware and Rhode Island hold it at staggering 50%.

In Nevada, if the wagers want to place their bets via mobile phones, the first must go to the land-based sportsbooks and deposit money into their accounts…

…and then place their wagers via mobile phone.

“It’s been a tremendous advantage because what you have with a mobile app is every cell phone is a betting window and a new customer. The fact that it does create a convenience element — when there’s more convenience, there’s more handle,” said Vinny Magliulo, sportsbook director for Gaughan Gaming in Las Vegas.

“I guess I would say the mobile operation is fine as long as you have to go to brick and mortar to put your funds in. I’m not a fan of what I hear is happening in New Jersey, where you can use PayPal and other things to fund an account. Here in Nevada, it’s cash-only. You can’t use credit cards, which is always a good idea when you’re talking about gambling,” Magliulo added.


“On-site vs. mobile fight key to sports betting question in Montana”, Casey Conlon,, February 3, 2019.

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