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Even though Montana Lottery officials cannot decide when legalized sports betting will launch in the state, they believe that on that to-be-determined opening day, there could be up to 1,400 physical locations that offer sports betting to customers.
The new rule, proposed this week by the Montana Lottery, must go through a public comment period first before the adoption can take place and the doors open to the licensing of numerous betting locations.
Once the public comment period ends on November 4th, Montana can set a launch date for sports betting as officials hope that the first bets can be made before the start of the NFL Playoffs in early January.
“We anticipate being ready for an end-of-the-year launch, but the public comment piece is a very important piece of it and we will follow that,” said Jennifer McKee, a spokesperson for the Lottery.
Once the Lottery decides on regulations, then bettors will be able to wager on college and professional sporting events in the state. Customers will have two choices in Montana, either betting in a licensed retail location, at a window or a kiosk, or through a mobile app.
Legislators debated feverishly before agreeing to a bill that later became law as to the specifications a location must meet to become a licensed betting establishment.
In the end, lawmakers wrote that licensed betting locations must have the proper alcoholic beverage license as well before they are able to qualify for a gambling operator license.
Lottery officials later clarified the arrangement by stating:
“The lottery has taken this approach because by limiting eligibility to locations that possess the appropriate alcoholic beverage license for certain gambling activities, the lottery will ensure a sufficient number of locations to offer sports wagering and help limit any adverse impacts of an overabundance of population.”
One of the biggest reasons why the Lottery added the stipulation that betting operator licenses must accompany alcohol serving licenses is due to the requirement that distribution is even according to population.
Once an operator is granted a license, they will receive a 6% commission on all sales of betting tickets.
Another important feature of the sports betting proposal by the lottery is the incorporation of a self-exclusion process that will allow people who suffer from gambling addictions to remove themselves from being able to register for the betting app and other wagering alternatives.
“This is a tool for anyone who should not be participating to just block themselves,” McKee said.
The Lottery is also discussing exclusion provisions with local colleges and universities inside the state to educate their staff on the laws and regulations that will be in place once sports betting is open in Montana.
One of the biggest criticisms of the proposal put forth by the Montana Lottery is the decision to have the state’s current lottery contractor, Intralot, to take over the sports betting side without holding a bidding process through the state’s procurement laws.
Much like a recent lawsuit in Washington D.C. over a no-bid agreement with Intralot, a lawsuit could happen in the future that would challenge the awarding of the state’s betting business to the company.
If a lawsuit happens, then bettors can expect a further delay in the launch date of sports gambling in Montana.
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