Whether you are from the United States or any other country, there are few people who would be surprised to find out that you do not know much about the state of Montana. Even people who reside in Montana may not be surprised to find out that you know very little about their state. Despite this, you will be happy to know that the state of Montana plays host to more than 100 casinos. The casinos in the state are, in truth, nothing like what you will find in other states where casino games are legal.
In fact, the way casinos in Montana exist today is a lot like they have always existed in the state. Ever since the 19th century, settlers, residents, and those simply passing through have played many casino games in Montana. It is a part of their long, storied history and that is something that very few people think will change anytime in the near future.
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Land-based gambling is fairly popular in Montana, so it should come as no surprise that local gamblers have access to a wide range of regulated games of chance. The available options include slots and table games offered by the local tribal casinos, pari-mutuel betting, charity gambling events, and a state-controlled lottery. Montana doesn’t have any iGaming-friendly regulations, so you’ll have to settle for US-facing offshore sites if you’d like to join the action online.
The only casinos in Montana are situated on Native American reservations. Although the state of Montana bans brick-and-mortar casino establishments, the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act grants class two gaming licenses to all Native American tribes.
The tribes in Montana have yet to receive a class three gaming license, which means the game selection they can offer is limited. Slot machines, keno, and video poker can be found in many establishments. Table games such as Blackjack and Roulette are illegal, even on tribal reservations. Casinos are not allowed to accept credit cards or advance cash for gambling purposes.
Unfortunately for players looking to access offshore casinos, the Montana Gambling Control Division explicitly bans access to operators who offer online poker or table games.
Montana has set the legal age for gambling at 18.
Recently, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of state-level sports gambling regulation. Montana has started discussions about legalizing sports wagers, but the public response has been lackluster so far. Montana Department of Justice spokesman Eric Sell claims that the state doesn’t have the desire or volume to support sports betting. Until the demand for sports gaming increases, the chances of sports gaming legalization are low.
The state of Montana does not currently differentiate between wagers made on electronic sports (eSports) and traditional sports. As a result, making bets on eSports outcomes is illegal.
Montana has made significant progress towards legalizing daily fantasy sports (DFS) gaming. In 2017, Senate Bill 25 defined DFS gaming, which led to the creation of House Joint Resolution 21, a study of the positive and negative effects of DFS on a state. Until the study concludes, the future of fantasy gaming in Montana remains unknown. Should the study provide support for DFS, there is a high chance of the state legalizing fantasy sports betting.
Players may legally gamble on both live and simulcast horse races as long as the racetrack or simulcast facility carries a gaming license. Pari-mutuel wagers must be made on-track. The same rules and limitations apply to greyhound racing.
There is only one large race track in Montana – the Yellowstone Downs. However, two popular annual events host horse racing:
There is also a large selection of off-track betting establishments spread throughout the state.
Live poker can be found in many of Montana’s bars and saloons. The Montana Gambling Control Division grants gaming licenses for poker quite liberally. The state is also home to several dedicated poker rooms, such as:
Most poker rooms don’t host more than three-to-four poker tables, which makes bars the best option for finding games.
Anybody over the age of 18 can participate in the Montana state lottery.
The state offers a great spread of multi-state lotteries, including:
Montana also offers several in-state games, such as:
Lottery winners that have been assigned a social security number are taxed on the prize pool at a rate of 6.9% in state taxes and 25% in federal taxes on winnings higher than $5,000. Winners who do not have a social security number are taxed by the US at a rate of 28% on prize pools larger than $599.
All lottery taxes collected by Montana are used to fund the state General Fund, which provides funding to various public programs. Prize money must be claimed within six months of the award date; otherwise, it is given to the state. Any earnings higher than $600 may be subject to garnishment if the winner is delinquent on taxes or owes child support.
Charitable gaming events run by recognized non-profit organizations are exempt from the 18+ gambling age restriction. Montana takes a soft stance on charity gaming as long as 100% of the proceeds are donated, allowing all types of card games to be hosted, including:
The permit fee for charity gaming is $250, and prizes can’t be worth more than $5,000. The only dedicated Bingo parlor is the Big D Bingo & Casino located in Billings.
As was mentioned above, the history of casinos and gambling in general in Montana stretches further back than the constitution of Montana. By the time the area became an officially sanctioned state, there was already so much gambling happening across all areas of the state. The biggest money-earner and most popular form of gambling was by way of lotteries, of which there were hundreds. Of course, as it was in most of the rest of the country, the lotteries began taking a turn for the worse and ended up simply robbing people of their money.
Towards the end of the 19th century and in the early parts of the 20th century, Montana went the way of most other parts of the country and began outlawing most vices, including alcohol and gambling. While prohibition in other parts of the country lasted decades, Montana’s prohibition began collapsing in the early 1930s. By 1937, state lawmakers passed the Hickey Act, which once again made table casino games legal. As a provision of the act, whether or not casino table games would be legal is a decision that would be left up to individual counties. Though table games have been around since the 1930s, games like slots and video poker have been in a state of flux constantly. In the 1980s, the Video Poker Machine Act was passed and allowed for bars to host a specific number of video poker or video keno machines.
Something else worth noting about Montana casinos is the fact that, in 2005, an amendment to the state’s constitution made it outright illegal for citizens to partake in any form of online gambling. While most other US states see online gambling not listed as illegal but not strictly legal either, Montana has taken a firm stance and has outlawed the use of any and all online gambling. There is no real reason for anyone to believe that this is something that will change at any point in the near future.