Montana Casinos and Gambling

Montana is known as “Big Sky Country,” “The Last Best Place,” and the “Treasure State.” Recognized for its small population, impressive mountains, and expansive landscapes, it has long been a favorite for those seeking isolation and communion with nature. Those wanting quick riches should also be delighted, as the state offers several forms of legal gambling within its borders.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the various types of gambling available in the state of Montana. Whether you’re a tourist with dollar signs in your eyes or just a bored local, our guide should give you plenty of ideas for where to spend your hard-earned cash.

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Montana Indian Casinos

Commercial casinos are not allowed in the state of Montana, but there are plenty of tribal gaming facilities to take their place. Most of these are of a smaller variety, however, so don’t expect to find any massive gaming establishments. In fact, a number of the “casinos” in the state are nothing more than convenience stores with a few slot machines set up in the back.

At last count, the state had 69 casinos with an emphasis on slot machines, poker, and electronic table games. These are spread out over 27 different cities, with new locations being added all the time.

The following are some of the more notable brick-and-mortar casinos within the state:

• Best Western & KwaTaqNuk Casino
• Billings Hotel & Casino
• Buffalo Rivers Casino & Lodge
• Cattle-Ac Niteclub, Casino & Steakhouse
• Charging Horse Casino & Bingo
• Glacier Peaks Casino & Bingo
• Gray Wolf Peak Casino
• Sawbuck Saloon
• Silver Wolf Casino

Legal Sports Betting in Montana

In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was passed in an effort to determine the legal status of sports wagering in the United States. Also known as the “Bradley Act,” this piece of legislation largely served to make sports betting illegal in most of the nation.

There were exceptions, however. The licensed sports pools offered in Nevada were exempt, and so were the sports lotteries conducted in the states of Montana, Delaware, and Oregon. States that had been operating casino gambling for the decade prior to the passage of the law were also given a 1-year window to legalize sports betting, although none chose to do so.

While the federal government doesn’t view sports betting as illegal in Montana, the state government does. They’ve long since severed their ties with this hobby, and even online companies are prohibited from offering betting lines from within the borders of the state.

Poker Rooms in Montana

In addition to casino games, residents and visitors can both enjoy a game of Omaha, stud, or even Texas hold’em poker. Most poker rooms are smaller affairs, often with just a single table available. If you’re craving some poker action, however, one table should do just fine.

If you’re looking for legal poker within the state of Montana, I suggest giving one of these establishments a try:

• The Oxford
• Silvertip Casino
• Riverboat Cardroom
• Ranger Lounge
• Montana Nugget Casino
• Locomotive Inn Casino
• Gold Mine Casino
• Glacier Peaks Casino & Bingo
• Cellar Casino & Restaurant
• Cat’s Paw Cardroom
• Buffalo Rivers Casino & Lodge
• Beacon Icehouse & Casino

Pari-Mutuel Racing in Montana

On paper, it looks as though Montana has a vibrant racing scene. In reality, however, the industry is barely on life support. The one permanent track in the state, Yellowstone Downs, is not currently conducting races, and this isn’t expected to change in the near future. A few other seasonal events have also been closed, leaving racing enthusiasts with only the following two options:

Great Falls Race Meet – Held annually in July during the State Fair, this series of races is spread out over four days. In 2015, the State Fair/AQHA Bonus Challenge had an estimated purse of $9,600, while the Great Falls Turf Club Thoroughbred Stakes Race had an estimated purse of $10,000.
Miles City Bucking Horse Sale – This annual event focuses on the buying and selling of horses, but they also include a number of races during their four days of operation each May.

If you prefer to wager on the ponies in a more relaxed, air-conditioned environment, you can do so by visiting one of the many off-track betting facilities in Montana. The following is a list of businesses currently in operation, although this is likely to change over the years.

• Belgrade Lounge (Belgrade)
• Bull’s Eye Casino (Helena)
• Motherlode Sports Bar (Helena)
• Play Inn (Billings)
• Doc & Eddy’s (Billings)
• Sawbucks (Kalispell)
• BB’s Casino (Butte)
• Golden Spur Casino (Miles City)
• Halftime Sports Bar (Great Falls)
• Lucky Strike Casino (Missoula)

State Lottery in Montana

Available since 1986, the Montana Lottery provides scratch tickets and a number of different drawings to residents and anyone else within the state. The minimum age to participate is 18, and the various games have paid out over $300 million to players since its inception. Due to their membership with the Multi-State Lottery Association, Montana is also able to offer some of the most popular national lottery games.

Here are the most notable selections currently available:

10 Spot – Similar to keno, this game pays $25,000 to any player who can match 10 numbers during a random drawing.
Montana Cash – Drawings are held twice a week, with a jackpot starting at $20,000.
Wild Card 2 – Played in four states, this game is drawn twice a week and gives players two game cards for each $1 spent.
Powerball – First available in Montana in 1992, this multi-state game has a $20 million minimum jackpot.
Hot Lotto – Played in 15 states with two drawings per week, this game has a minimum jackpot of $1 million.
Mega Millions – Held in numerous states, this lottery game offers a jackpot that starts at $15 million.

Conclusion

While Montana appears to have all manner of gambling available, the reality isn’t nearly as exciting. Most of the casinos are small (sometimes laughably so), and the live horseracing only takes place during a few days each year. Still, the state does offer thousands of slot machines, the game that ultimately satisfies the largest number of players. Between that and the lottery, there seems to be more than enough to keep most residents happy.

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