What Gambling is Legal in Montana?
Montana currently features no real online gambling. There are hundreds of bars and other venues that host slot machines and table games, as well as ten full tribal casinos.
You can also bet on sports using an online app – but only while physically in the same venue as one of the 142 different Sports Bet Montana kiosks scattered throughout the state.
However, online gambling from home is still illegal in the state.
You may see some international sportsbooks advertised as allowing bets from Montana, but they are illegal and can be very sketchy. They may also close down at any time, and you’ll have no official recourse if a dispute arises between you and the sportsbook.
Social Gaming: Chumba Casino
One legal option for fans to play online slots in Montana is Chumba Casino.
This site, along with its sister operation Luckyland Slots, uses innovative sweepstakes-based technology to skirt federal online gambling laws.
You can play slots for cash prizes at Chumba without betting any real money. This keeps things 100% legal.
For a detailed breakdown of how Chumba works and why you should give it a shot, see our dedicated page on the topic.
In the Future
Montana hasn’t shown an appetite for online gambling over the past few years. The state even passed an updated gambling law in 2005 to eliminate any loopholes.
Even though online sportsbooks are now legal when players are near a physical betting location in the state, we don’t expect to see true online gambling in Montana in the near future.
Montana Online Casinos in the Future: A Speculative Review
The prospect of online casinos in Montana is remote.
Except for Chumba, which operates differently, there are no places to play slots or table games online in Montana at the moment.
The wide availability of these games in bars and other venues outside of the traditional casino environments means Montana is less likely to go online than other states.
If gamblers can always find somewhere near them to put down a bet, moving online will bring less new revenue than in other states that only house one or two casinos.
Montana is also the third least-populous state. This limits the number of online casinos or sportsbooks that see it as a priority new market.
Online Gambling Deposits and Withdrawals in Montana
At the moment, the only legal way to deposit funds for online gambling in Montana is through Sports Bet Montana’s mobile app or site.
Sports Bet Montana currently offers deposits through operator Intralot’s bank transfer or card payment system. This bypasses some of the card blocks that plague online gambling operators throughout the States.
This method should work with almost all popular cards like Amex, VISA, and Mastercard. It also works with standard bank transfers.
E-wallets like PayPal or Skrill are not available through Sports Bet Montana at the moment.
Interestingly, you can deposit or withdraw money from your Sports Bet Montana account wherever you are in the state. You just can’t place a bet unless you’re inside a licensed location.
Online Gambling Bonuses in Montana Now and in the Future
Currently, there are no legal online gambling bonuses you can get in Montana.
Sports Bet Montana doesn’t offer any special bonuses or promotions. It’s also not technically online as you can’t place bets outside licensed locations.
If online gambling is legalized in Montana in the future, you’ll likely see similar bonuses to the ones available today in legal states like New Jersey. Examples include:
- Deposit matches, where the casino or sportsbook gives you bonus money equal to a percentage of your deposit.
- Free bets or free spins on slots.
- Special promotional odds during big sports betting events like football’s Super Bowl or the baseball World Series.
There’s only one online sports betting app in the Big Sky State – Sports Bet Montana.
You also can’t use it to place bets outside of licensed locations.
It does offer decent odds and a solid range of sports – better than some fully legal online sportsbooks in other states.
It is run by the Montana State Lottery in conjunction with Greek lottery operator Intralot.
You can bet on:
- NFL and college football
- NBA and college basketball
- MLB or international baseball
- MLS soccer and dozens of other global leagues, like the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga
- UFC and boxing
- Ice hockey
- And many more!
This is an impressive selection of sports, especially compared to some other state-run providers. It’s a shame you can’t use it to bet from your house.
The relationship between the law and gambling in Montana goes back as far as the state’s constitution in 1889. It declared all gambling in the state illegal, although unlicensed betting continued.
In 1933, gambling prohibition was overturned.
In 1937, a law to regulate table games was introduced – The Hickey Act.
In 1945, various forms of slot machines were legalized under Montana law.
However, in 1950, the Montana Supreme Court declared them illegal again.
In 1972, Montana passed the Card Game, Bingo, Raffles, and Sports Pool Act, which allowed licensed operators to legally host these games. Strangely, blackjack remained illegal – but not poker.
Over the next decade, many interpreted the law to include then-new video poker and video keno machines, as they are technically card and bingo games, respectively.
In 1983, Montana residents voted down Initiative 92, which would have seen state counties responsible for their own gambling laws.
In 1984, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that video poker machines were not included under the 1972 law. This made them illegal again.
However, that ban didn’t last long. In 1985, video poker was fully legalized and licensed in Montana under the Video Poker Machine Act.
In 1986, the Montana State Lottery received the go-ahead to launch in a state referendum.
In 1993, the federal legislation PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act)came into force, banning online sports betting on a national level across the US.
Between 1995 and 2001, Montana successfully negotiated five tribal casino gaming contracts with Montana-based Native American tribes.
In 2005, Montana lawmakers updated their 1972 legislation to ensure that online gambling remained illegal in the state.
In 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wanted to legalize online sports betting in his state. He took his case to the US Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court agreed that PASPA was unconstitutional in the landmark case of Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. This allowed states to set their own online betting laws – and many have done so.
In 2019, Montana voted to legalize online sports betting – but only through the state lottery service and only in or very near licensed betting locations.
2019 also saw the state legislature vote against legalizing blackjack. This was the fifth time casinos had tried and failed to legalize blackjack since the state was founded.
March 2020 saw the launch of Montana State Lottery’s Sports Bet Montana. Although online in the wider sense, it still didn’t let Montanan gamblers place bets online from anywhere.
The project was heavily complicated by the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, which meant fewer visitors to bars and other gambling venues where the app could be used.
FAQ on Montana Online Gambling
Only sports betting through the state-run app Sports Bet Montana is legal in the state.
You also need to physically be on licensed premises to place bets through the site or mobile app.
You need to be at least 18 to place any bets in the Big Sky State, online or otherwise. This is younger than in some legal states, where the minimum age is 21.
Yes. There are hundreds of such locations across the state today. Visit your local sports bar, and there’s a good chance they’ll let you bet there, too.
If not, any of the ten tribal casinos in Montana host sports betting areas.
With the mobile app or website on your phone or laptop, you don’t need to sit at a kiosk or wait in line – you can bet from your seat or even the bar.
Yes – through Sports Bet Montana. You also need to be in a licensed location, although you can check your balance and other account functions anywhere in Montana.
You can’t bet from your house, either – geolocation features will stop you from doing so.
Never say never, but it’s unlikely to happen in the near future.
Of all the states to legalize sports betting online, Montana has taken the most conservative approach.
This means it will probably take a similar stance with online casinos. Further, the state voted not to legalize blackjack in casinos as recently as 2019.