Montana Sports Betting Bill Would Make Lottery Regulator And Sole Operator

House hears testimony about bill that would allow kiosks in restaurants, bars and convenience stores

Montana lawmakers heard testimony about sports betting for the second consecutive week Tuesday morning, this time for HB 725, a bill that would not only make the Montana Lottery (Lottery) the regulator but the sole operator for sports betting. The House Committee on Business and Labor Affairs heard from four proponents of the bill and no opponents as well as representatives from the Lottery and the Gambling Control Administration.

The bill would legalize sports betting through the Lottery and allow kiosks to be placed at licensed businesses, including bars, restaurants, and potentially convenience stores, throughout the state. Introduced on Friday by Representative Ryan Lynch (D-District 76), the bill would allow for some internet and mobile sports betting, would create a sports wagering commission within the Lottery and would, as Montana State Lottery Director Angela Wong put it, allow the state “to receive all of the revenue (from sports betting) after expenses.” She also said the Lottery would be able to roll out sports betting within six months of approval.

The bill is one of a handful being considered in Montana. Last week, the Senate Business and Labor Committee heard testimony from operators, including William Hill, on SB 330, which would legalize sports betting in a similar manner, but the Lottery would not be the regulator. Late last week, the committee voted, 8-2, to send the bill to the Senate floor, but not date has been set for a vote.