Montana Becomes Ninth State to Legalize Sports Betting

May 03, 2019 07:44 PM EDT
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  • Sports betting is now legal in Montana after Governor Steve Bullock signed a bill into law on Friday.
  • It becomes the ninth state to have legalized sports wagering and the first to make the move in 2019.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed a bill on Friday that will legalize sports betting. The Treasure State joins the likes of Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mississippi and New Mexico on the list of states now offering legal wagering.

The bill permits mobile betting in Montana, but it appears to be much more limited than the laws in New Jersey, which have propelled the state to becoming the second to only Nevada in sports betting.

In Jersey, you can bet legally on your phone, so long as you’re within the state’s borders, but the new law in Montana restricts mobile wagering to when customers are physically within one of the restaurants/bars that’s a licensed sports betting provider.

Montana lawmakers actually gave Gov. Bullock two different sports betting bills from which to choose. The one that he signed into law gives the Montana Lottery full control over all wagering. The one he vetoed would have been more of a free-market system that allowed multiple sportsbooks to operate in the state.

Sports betting supporters in the state wanted the governor to sign both bills to create more competition, but he decided against it, saying, “If, in two years, the market can tolerate more entrants, then I fully expect the legislature will revisit whether a second model is prudent for our state,” according to a veto letter obtained by Legal Sports Report.

The law is effective immediately, according to the AP, with an eye on getting everything up and running by football season.

The 43rd most-populous state in the U.S, Montana estimates sports betting will generate $3.7 million in revenue during the first year.

Montana’s entrance into the legal betting marketplace comes nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which had banned wagering outside of Nevada.

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, seven new states have now legalized sports betting. Three more states — Indiana, Iowa and Tennessee — have bills currently sitting on the governor’s desk.

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