After a slow start in 2020, the sports betting industry in Montana appears to be moving at full speed. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented sports betting in Montana from being able to launch successfully in March of 2020. Last year, like many states, Montana saw its sports betting industry reach new heights.
There is no shortage of gambling operators in the state of Montana. The large number of legal gaming options made it somewhat surprising that sports betting did not take off immediately. Bettors in Montana can access sportsbooks online and in person. They can also use a mobile app if they are at a retail betting outlet.
With the worst of the coronavirus pandemic hopefully behind us, sportsbooks should be in for another big year in 2022. For operators in Montana, they will look to build on their success from last year. While doubling their success again would be difficult, they should be able to at least maintain their numbers from last year. The Winter Olympics and other sporting events should also provide bettors with more chances to place wagers.
A Closer Look at Montana’s Sports Betting Revenue
As of December 27th, sportsbooks in Montana had registered a total of $46 million in wagers placed. While not a huge number compared to other states, it is important to keep in mind that Montana is the 7th smallest state by population. Despite being the largest landlocked state, only roughly 1.1 million people reside in Big Sky Country.
The $46 million in wagers from 2021 is even more impressive when compared to the year before. Sports betting in Montana launched in March of 2020 and only generated $18 million in wagers over 9 months. Having a full 12 months to operate certainly played a part in the increase in bets placed.
The state of Montana also benefitted from the increase in sports betting. Like other states that allow sports betting, the industry generates a ton of extra tax revenue. In 2021, Montana collected a total of $9 million from taxes on sportsbooks.
How Montana’s Gaming Industry is Expanding
Montana’s sports betting operators had plenty of excuses for their slow start in 2020. The pandemic restricted access to the in-person and mobile betting options. Outbreaks also led to the postponement of the 2020 Olympics. A return to normalcy last year allowed sportsbooks to have more success in their first full year of operations.
While it does not allow true mobile sports betting, bettors in Montana can use the Sports Bet Montana app. In order to place bets with the app, players must be in the geofenced footprint of an authorized retail betting outlet.
The success of sportsbooks has led to other gaming operations wanting to open in the Treasure State. For example, a Conoco gas station in Billings is being turned into a bar and casino. The new Wild Tornado Bar and Casino will also be attempting to maintain its working gas pumps. As the gaming industry continues to grow it will attract even more vendors. The growth of the industry could also lead to even more relaxed gaming laws than those already in place in Big Sky Country.
Montana Gambling Laws
The Treasure State has a reputation for being anti-gambling. However, there are multiple types of legal gambling residents can access. Casinos in Montana offer a range of popular games including bingo, poker, and raffles. Online, mobile, and in-person sports betting options are also available.
Montana has a robust state lottery that was created in 1986. The Montana Lottery generates money for many state-run programs. In 2020, Montana’s lottery generated roughly $60 million in sales. The state lottery is also in charge of overseeing the state’s sports betting operations. They also run the Sports Bet Montana app.
Bettors in Montana can access sportsbooks through many different options. However, the state does limit the amount players can wager. At one of the sports betting kiosks, bettors can wager up to $250. Bettors using online or mobile options are limited to bets up to $1,000.
Sports betting in Montana broke new ground in 2021. The industry launched in 2020, but it was overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak. Luckily, sportsbooks in Montana were able to survive the rocky start. After generating just $18 million in bets in 2020, Montana sportsbooks reported $46 million in total bets last year.
Montana’s sports betting success has already led to new operators wanting to expand into the state. Montana businessman Jay Doucette recently purchased a Conoco gas station in Billings to turn into a casino. The Wild Tornado Bar and Casino will begin renovations in the near future.
A big showing in 2021 is great for the sports betting industry, but it can also put pressure on sportsbooks to maintain their success. With major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics coming up, operators will look for a hot start in 2022.