Montana Senator Mark Blasdel is in a quandary. He has until April 1 to successfully push his bill, Senate Bill 330 (SB 330), through the Senate if he wants sports gambling to come to the state this year. However, Blasdel is remaining hopeful, telling Casino.org, “There’s still time to get it done.”
SB 330 has already made it past the Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee on its way toward approval. The committee approved the bill, 8-2, last week and the Senate Finance and Claims Committee has to review it this week if it will go before the full Senate for a vote. Time is running out quickly, but Blasdel expects the finance committee to hear the bill on Wednesday or Thursday.
Montana has actually been able to legally offer sports gambling for more than a few decades. When federal lawmakers approved the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), the state was one of only four that could allow the activity. However, it has stayed almost completely away from sports gambling, only authorizing pool betting.
Casino.org points out that SB 330 is similar in language to the sports gambling bill approved by Delaware. It allows established locations, such as bars and casinos, to install sports gambling kiosks, which would be available to bettors 18 years old or older. It also allows mobile wagering, provided the gamblers are physically located at one of the approved facilities when the wager is made.
Blasdel adds, “The way it’s set up right now, you’d have to go in and set up your account before at a licensed place. It’s also built as a driver for the local taverns and bars and casinos.”
If approved, SB 330 would permit up to 300 gambling kiosks in Montana. Each one would carry a $100 annual fee and annual license fees for two approved sportsbook operators, as well as two platform operators, would run $1,000 each. There would also be the ability to establish as many as 10 “associated businesses”—businesses that offer equipment for the sportsbook operations, and each would be required to pay $100 each year.
Blasdel expects sports gambling to bring additional revenue to the state, but perhaps not at the same level seen in other areas. The activity would be assessed a tax of 8.5% on receipts, which the legislator predicts would bring in $2 million each year for the first three years.