Michael McKean is an experienced writer with a portfolio that includes work on the subjects of sport, gambling, travel and finance. With a background rooted in journalism, Michael first ventured into the professional writing world based in Switzerland, where he wrote for a number of language and travel sites and magazines before moving into the world of sports writing and gambling sites.
As an avid soccer fan, who follows everything from the Scottish lower leagues to the European elites, he has earned himself a solid reputation as a reliable football betting tipster and predictor. Outside of work, Michael has always gotten involved with grassroutes football everywhere he has worked and lived - UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil - and still isn’t shy when it comes to pulling the boots on himself. As well as soccer, he has also developed a love of North American sports, particularly ice hockey - a love which began in Switzerland and saw him venture across the pond to follow the NHL. Moving away from dry land, he’s also a keen longboard surfer and is happiest when writing with a view of the ocean.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Montana?
The US has come a long way in a short space of time. For decades, gambling was essentially illegal throughout the country, apart from a couple of states like Nevada and New Jersey. Suddenly, North America has opened up to the idea of legalizing wagering.
As a Montana resident, you want to know where Montana online gambling laws stand compared to the rest of the US. The Treasure State has a unique relationship with betting, which means you need to be sure before you proceed. We understand your hesitancy, so we’ve created this thorough Montana online gambling guide as inspiration.
The legal status quo in Montana - how the state differs from the US
Montana doesn’t have the same relationship as its neighbors and peers. For example, whereas several US states have liberal attitudes towards online sportsbooks, MT is quite harsh and still has plenty of restrictions. A lot of the reasons for the approach stem back to the turn of the millennium and even before that.
The definition is tweaked to include iGaming companies
Montana didn’t let iGaming betting companies operate in the legal gray area for too long before the legislature acted. Rather than let people get away with wagering, the local government decided to change the definition of what constitutes illegal gambling behavior in the Montana Code. Section 25 now specifically outlines internet wagering as unlawful, and also mentions that the electronic devices used are classed as illegal devices once they’ve been used to place a bet. This happened in 2005.
Not all gambling is illegal, though
The weird thing about Montana’s take on wagering is that some forms are allowed. Currently, there are eight land-based casinos in the state, five of which offer Class III games. This is the highest class and includes the likes of slot machines and table games. They exist because they are owned by Native American tribes. The tribes’ land isn’t subject to the same laws as the rest of the US.
Is legalization on the horizon?
Potentially. A can of worms has already been opened in some respects after a sports gambling bill was passed through Montana’s Congress in May 2019. However, this only relates to on-site betting, with online wagering banned across the Big Sky Country. Hopefully, these new laws will set a precedent for the rest of the industry.
Sports betting in Montana - online gambling sites Montana operate are in a catch-22
Let’s look into how many states have legal gambling. It’s quite a lot when you factor in sports betting. Sportsbooks appear to be the lesser of the evils in the United States. Either that or they are the biggest earners and states want a piece of the pie via the tax charged. Regardless, Montana doesn’t follow the rest of the nation’s lead concerning online sports betting.
This doesn’t mean betting on sports is fully illegal, because it isn’t. House Bill H275 makes it perfectly acceptable for Montana residents to select eligible sportsbooks and place wagers. But, the caveat is that it must be done through an authorized retailer. Right now, none of the permitted operators are digital. Indeed, the bill says you need to be physically present to place a sports bet.
As a result of the Montana Lottery Commission essentially overseeing Montana online gambling laws, there isn’t much scope for online sports betting in the state. More confusingly, a Sports Bet Montana app exists, as does a website. Therefore, you can place wagers online, yet you have to be stationed at a licensed kiosk to ensure it’s legal. There are thousands of them across MT because the legislation lets any business with a liquor license offer gambling services, including sportsbooks. Of course, this doesn’t negate the fact you need to travel to a restaurant or liquor store to avoid falling foul of the law.
For now, the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 hasn’t translated into much progress in Montana. Sports wagering is legal, and you can do it online to a degree, but it continues to be restrictive. With that in mind, please use this table to decipher the operators you can use to gamble legally in MT.
Casino gaming in Montana - only tribal casinos can bypass Montana gambling laws
Unsurprisingly, online casino gaming follows the same rules as the rest of the internet betting industry in Montana. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to play your favorite titles for money in MT via the internet. To enjoy slots, blackjack, and roulette, you’ll need to head to your closest brick-and-mortar establishment and sample the machines and tables on offer. However, as there are only five tribal casinos with these types of games, you may have to travel a long way.
Invariably, you want to know if there are any exceptions to the rules. Thankfully, there are, because not every organization falls under the terms and conditions of the state’s legislature. In a twist of fate, offshore casinos are considered fair game by several legal experts, which is why many of them accept customers from Montana. And, the fact that several are big brands based in Europe negates the myth they are risky. On the flip side, they are not completely legal, so picking an offshore casino won’t make you bulletproof.
Two healthier options are social casinos and sweepstakes casinos. The former is legal in Montana as no money changes hands. As a result, they don’t fall under the jurisdiction of Montana’s gaming board. Sweepstakes casinos, meanwhile, work in much the same way they do in Nebraska. Nebraska is another state with strict online gambling laws, causing online gambling Nebraska offerings to be few and far between. However, sweepstakes are permitted in both regions as the winnings count as sweepstakes rather than gambling winnings.
The distinction may be small, but it means you can play a variety of online casino games at the following establishments. Seeing as that’s unusual for Montana, the table underneath is a must-read.
Online poker in Montana - poker is hard to find on Montana gambling sites
Although internet poker websites often accept Montana residents, you should be aware it is illegal to bet play on internet poker platforms. This is the same almost every vertical you’ll come across in Montana, so it’s not a shock to learn this by now. The good news is that playing poker isn't as challenging as finding casino games or playing daily fantasy sports.
You can’t do it online, but you can head to a licensed vendor in the same way you can place sports bets with operators at physical buildings. Since Montana online gambling rules have a poker loophole, there are around 1,400 gaming licenses for video poker machines throughout MT. That means video poker isn’t hard to find because any kiosk with a liquor license is legitimate. Restrictions still exist, of course. A license means providers can only provide 20 video poker machines and must enforce limits per hand.
Live poker games, such as poker tournaments held in rooms with several players, are fair game too. If you’re looking for a loophole, you can do the same as would with online casino gaming and head to a sweepstakes casino for your poker enjoyment. With our recommendations, there’s no reason to worry about reliability or trust issues.
Fantasy sports in Montana - Montana gambling laws are harsh on DFS
The Montana online gambling legislation is one of the only ones that mention daily fantasy sports betting within its statute. As you may have guessed by now, the attitude isn’t liberal! DFS sportsbooks are banned just like online sports and casino wagering. But the decision is a little strange considering sports betting has recently been legalized.
Unlike traditional sportsbooks, DFS is only available through a handful of operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel. As such, Montana’s approach basically eliminates the option for Montanans. The bill dates back to 2007, so Montana has been against DFS for around 15 years. You can’t claim the state is inconsistent with its beliefs.
The Montana Lottery does run fantasy games that center around the same concept as DFS services, yet you must be physically located at a kiosk to place a bet. One hope for the state is that it recognizes DFS as a game of skill rather than luck, which was the case with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006. If this does happen, the providers below come with our blessings.
The social casinos market is where Montana is a market leader. You can compare it to a liberal gambling state like Nevada and you won’t be disappointed. Firstly, Nevada is stricter than you may imagine regarding online wagering. Realistically, Nevada internet gambling offerings are hard to find in the City of Sin. Secondly, Montana is happy to leave social casinos alone as it understands the enjoyment element.
As far as Montana online gambling is concerned, you can register with social casinos without breaking the law. Montana takes it one step further by making social gambling legal in other forms, too. Live poker rooms are excellent examples since players can get together and wager stakes in Montana. To do this, you can check out our list as it contains a range of social casino operators that provide games from bridge and cribbage to hearts and rummy.
Here are the operators we recommend:
House of Fun
Other betting options in Montana - are there any?
Don’t judge a book by its cover because there are alternative online betting options in Montana. After you’ve read the information that’s coming up, you may decide that Montana online gambling substitutes are superior to the classic options you usually find on platforms. Here’s what you need to know going forward.
Horse racing wagering deserves a special mention as it’s one of the only verticals that transcends the rules and regulations within the state. That’s right, you’ve finally found a legal online betting method in Montana! Essentially, off-track pari-mutuel online gambling is the only format that’s allowed, which is perfect for horse racing enthusiasts. Even if you’re not a lover of horse racing, it’s nice to know that there is an option when you need to scratch an itch. Unsurprisingly, the main betting companies have a presence in Montana and accept Montanans willingly. TVG, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica are the three to watch out for if you decide to sign up with an operator.
The legality of bingo can be confusing. Firstly, it’s important to note that online bingo is illegal as outlined in Section 23 of the Montana Code. Secondly, bingo operators from other countries do usually let Montana locals register as America’s laws don’t apply to them. Thirdly, in-person bingo is also legal as a Class II licensed game or form of charitable gaming. Therefore, you can play it, yet you can’t do it online.
The Montana Lottery has been legal since 1999, and unlike its peers, it does provide limited online options. Customers can purchase tickets via the internet as long as certain rules are adhered to. For instance, you need to be a member of the Montana Lottery Players Club and use unique codes.
Editor’s recommendation - the best operator for Montana internet gambling
It’s not hard to recognize the difficulty you’ll have when finding an online gambling operator as a Montana resident. Mostly, internet platforms are unlawful, meaning you must place bets in person if you want to do it legally. Where does that leave you in terms of your options? They are restricted, but they aren’t zero.
By now, you’ll understand that off-track horse racing services are the only legal digital wagering solutions in Montana. Therefore, it’s smart to select a provider that specializes in the vertical. There are three in MT, yet we believe TwinSpires is a fantastic option if you don’t have an account already.
Unlike in other states, TwinSpires combines in-person and off-track services perfectly due to the relationships it has with domestic, national, and international racecourses. In New Hampshire, for instance, there aren’t any racecourses for customers to place wagers physically. Horse racing online gambling sites in New Hampshire are legal, but they lack this fundamental element of the customer experience.
Another brilliant feature you’ll enjoy is the amount of data TwinSpires offers. Whether it’s handicapping news or the latest picks from the site’s experts, you can learn a lot of information by signing up with the company. Also, it goes without saying, but the new customer promos are extensive and provide tons of extra value.
All in all, you can’t go wrong if you love to place bets on horse racing events around the world and choose TwinSpires as your operator.
What does the future hold for betting and gaming in Montana - Montana internet gambling does have potential
It’s hard to say what the future holds because there aren’t many bright lights on the horizon. That’s to say that there are no bills in development or currently going through Montana’s Congress that seek to loosen restrictions surrounding internet gambling. When you compare this to places such as New Jersey, you can see that MT is a long way behind.
However, poetically, it means Montana has a lot more potential than NJ. Everyone knows the answer to the question, "Is online gambling legal in New Jersey?" As long as the operator is state-licensed, it’s a resounding 'Yes'! Montanans can’t say the same thing, yet this means there is only one way the state can go - forward.
There are glimmers of hope, not least the legalization of sports betting in 2019. Tribal casinos are legal, too, so it’s not as if there isn’t an appetite for the industry. Furthermore, as more of its neighbors open their doors to online wagering, Montana should see the financial benefits. If that happens, it won’t be long before a House Bill is passed through Congress.
Conclusion - what to remember with Montana online gambling legislation
If you remember anything about Montana online gambling services from our guide, make sure it’s that internet betting offerings are illegal. The only exceptions are horse racing and greyhound wagering, which are lawful on the tracks and off the tracks. What’s confusing to many people is that sports betting as a whole isn’t illegal. If you’re present at a licensed vendor, you can do it legally, and even use a website or app to place your bets. However, you must be located at a physical establishment. Otherwise, you’re breaking the law.
🤓 Do offshore gambling companies accept Montana customers?
Offshore betting companies are potential options if you live in a state where online gambling is unlawful. Although they aren’t subject to US laws, they are a lot more trustworthy than people give them credit for, particularly if you choose wisely. However, some states explicitly make them illegal, so you can get into trouble. Is Montana one of these places? Read through our guide to find out.
🤕 Are all gambling verticals illegal in MT?
Ever since PASPA was repealed in 2018, individual states have had the authority to create personalized betting rules for their residents. This causes confusion because they are never similar. Plus, gamblers find that there are caveats within the legislation. Montana has a complicated strategy regarding wagering, which is why it’s important to read through our guide to understand the distinctions.
🤗 Has Montana’s attitude to gambling always been the same?
Like most states, MT has a chequered past with gambling. Only Nevada and New Jersey can say they have adopted liberal strategies. Still, this doesn’t mean that the US has thought the same way and felt the same emotions for the last century. Perceptions have evolved over the years, and Montana isn’t exempt. The history of MT gambling and where the state stands today is described in our guide.