Gambling in Montana doesn’t follow the patterns that can be observed in most other US states. The Treasure State has signed gaming compacts with the local Indian tribes, but most of the action happens in local bars and other liquor-serving establishments.
This is because such venues are allowed to obtain cheap gambling licenses that will enable them to offer a limited number of video gaming terminals and card games. Both Montana residents and lawmakers seem perfectly happy with this state of affairs, and there are currently no serious legal efforts to change the status quo.
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Montana Gambling Law Summary
The current definition of illegal internet gambling is as follows: “Internet gambling, by whatever name known, includes but is not limited to the conduct of any legal or illegal gambling enterprise through the use of communications technology that allows a person using money, paper checks, electronic checks, electronic transfers of money, credit cards, debit cards, or any other instrumentality to transmit to a computer information to assist in the placing of a bet or wager and corresponding information related to the display of the game, game outcomes, or other similar information.”
Gambling in Montana is covered by Montana Code sections 23-5-110 et seq. and 23-4-101 et seq. The minimum gambling age is 18, but children under the age of 18 are allowed to participate in raffles conducted by churches, schools, and charity organizations.
Online Gambling in Montana
Online gambling was banned in Montana in 2005 when the definition of illegal gambling was updated to avoid loopholes that could be exploited by offshore iGaming operators, who tend to function in a legal grey area in states that haven’t introduced dedicated online gaming regulations.
The Montana Constitution prohibits gambling unless the state approves it. Furthermore, Montana code, Section 23, identifies online gambling as one of the forms of gambling that could qualify as an illegal gambling enterprise. Even worse, the current regulations treat every electronic device as an unlawful gambling device once it’s been used for gambling purposes. For an individual player, being caught would result in a serious fine. No players have been prosecuted so far, but playing any real money games over the internet is unlawful within the borders of the state. If you decide to join an offshore site, you’re doing so at your own risk.
Montana is home to eight tribal casinos, but only five of them are allowed to offer Class III games, such as slots and table games. The remaining establishments feature Class II gambling options, i.e., bingo games that are played against other players instead of the house.
Land-based casino-style gambling in Montana is found at 300+ licensed venues – mostly bars and taverns that offer video gaming machines, such as video poker and video lottery terminals. No more than 20 of these machines are allowed in a single location. The minimum return-to-player rate permitted by law is 80%.
All forms of internet gambling are banned in Montana. There are no state-sanctioned casino sites, and playing on offshore platforms is illegal. Even though many offshore casinos accept Montana residents and none of their customers have been prosecuted so far, the relevant statute leaves no room for interpretation.
Live poker is available as a charity game and at commercial establishments with a gambling license. Much like casino-style gambling, poker action in Montana is distributed across dozens of bars and restaurants. Dedicated poker rooms tend to offer very few tables.
Just like all other forms of online gambling, internet poker is explicitly prohibited in the Treasure State. Offshore poker sites tend to accept Montana residents, but no doubt, participating in real money games on such platforms is currently illegal.
Montana Sports Betting
Live and simulcast betting on horse and dog races is allowed in Montana as long as the wagers are placed at designated facilities. Traditional sports betting is prohibited, and professional sports organizations have shown significant opposition to legalizing this form of gambling. Lottery retailers are allowed to sell Sports Action products, which have a lot in common with fantasy sports.
Online sports betting is prohibited, along with all other forms of internet gambling. Offshore sportsbooks typically accept Montana residents, but using these platforms constitutes a violation of the local gambling laws.
Montana Daily Fantasy Sports
Montana is the only state that prohibits DFS contests in its statute. The relevant regulations were passed in 2007 and state that it is “unlawful to wager on a fantasy sports league by telephone or by the internet.” FanDuel, DraftKings, and all the other US-facing DFS platforms don’t offer their services to Montana residents. The last legislative push to legalize DFS in Montana happened in 2005 and failed to produce any results, so it seems unlikely for this situation to change in the foreseeable future.
Traditional fantasy sports leagues are allowed as long as they operate under a pari-mutuel betting system.
The Montana Lottery was founded in 1987 and went online in 1999. Its website’s primary function is to inform Montana residents about the available draw games, but die-hard lottery enthusiasts can join the Montana Lottery Player’s Club to gain access to some limited online gambling options. Participating in online action requires the customer to use special web codes, which are printed on lottery tickets, so this is more of a way to get some additional bang for your buck than an alternative to real internet gambling sites.
Bingo is offered by Class II land-based gambling establishments in Montana and is one of the state-approved forms of charitable gaming. Internet bingo is prohibited along with all other types of online gambling. Note that while many offshore bingo sites accept Montana residents, participating in any real money games offered by such platforms constitutes a violation of section 23-5-112 (21) of the Montana Code.
Montana Online Gambling FAQ
What types of gambling are available in MT?
While there’s no denying the fact that Montana doesn’t have any commercial casinos, there are many Indian casinos that allow Montana residents to experience the unique thrill of playing slots and table games in a real casino setting. Montana has several racetracks and allows pari-mutuel betting. The state also operates its own lottery and allows some forms of charity gambling, but it doesn’t license or regulate any iGaming sites.
What laws cover online gambling in Montana?
Online gambling is covered by the Montana Constitution and Section 23 of the Montana State Code. The Montana law does apply specifically to online gambling, which means that anyone caught playing on an offshore site will have to pay a fine.
Is real money online gambling legal in MT?
No, online gambling is illegal in Montana, as none of the sites that accept Montana residents have been licensed by the state to do so. Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that no players have been prosecuted so far.
Which offshore gambling sites accept Montana residents?
Although online gambling is illegal in Montana, most offshore sites have no qualms about accepting Montana residents.
What are the most popular banking options supported by Montana-facing sites?
Montana-based players can fund their offshore gambling accounts via credit and debit card payments, as well as Western Union/MoneyGram money transfers. If you deposit via a money transfer, you should be allowed to withdraw using this method. Otherwise, most sites will give you a choice between a wire transfer and a check by courier.
Does MT offer any intrastate online gambling?
No, the state of Montana hasn’t developed a proper licensing procedure for the local or offshore businesses yet.
Is it likely for Montana to regulate online gambling?
Unfortunately, Montana is one of the states that aren’t likely to legalize online gambling until there is a breakthrough on the federal level. Online gambling enthusiasts based in Montana are pretty much stuck with the current regulations for now.