Montana is catching up the sports betting bandwagon by becoming the ninth state in the US to legalize the market. Though the policy is limited in many ways, it is still a step ahead and the state’s previous stance.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed a bill approved by the House of Representatives on Friday, making sports betting a legal industry. Licensed bars and restaurants will now be allowed to host electronic kiosks to allow users to wager on different sports. They can also offer mobile apps that will only work within the premises. The state wants to establish a legal wagering infrastructure before the NFL season begins in September.
Intralot, the technology partner of the Montana Lottery will be providing wagering technology to the state. The company backed a similar contract in the District of Columbia as well. The monopolistic control of one company over an entire state became a highly controversial topic in DC as well.
Interestingly, Bullock vetoed another sports wagering bill passed by the Senate. The declined bill would have allowed a more competitive market in the state as multiple betting providers would be allowed to set up shop. The governor said in his signing statement that the Lottery model builds on the existing infrastructure. He noted that it would help in providing significantly more revenue to the taxpayers. He maintained that Montana should enter the sports betting market conservatively. However, he also noted that the state legislature would continue to assess the industry and if they deem appropriate, they may bring additional models after two years.
According to the Montana Lottery, betting activities are expected to total $65 million in the first year. By 2023, the number is expected to go up to $87 million. Revenue is expected to go up to $3.7 million in the first year and hit $5.4 million in three years.
Montana Tavern Association’s executive director John Iverson told the Associated Press that their members’ share of the actual betting revenue wouldn’t see a significant increase. However, there could be extra revenue because of the foods and drinks consumes by bettors, who will now spend a longer time at their premises.
Montana is the first state to legalize sports betting in the US this year. Several other states are planning to bring sports betting laws soon. The governor of Tennessee has already indicated that he will allow the sports betting bill to become law without his signature. Iowa and Indiana legislators have also passed new sports betting bills, but they are yet to be approved by the governors.