Sports wagering in Montana took another step toward implementation Thursday as the Montana Lottery Commission unanimously signed off on draft rules that will be final by December.
The Commission did not make any significant change to the rules, which will allow for wagering to take place inside bars, taverns, casinos and other locations with the appropriate alcohol and gambling licenses.
It's still unclear exactly when sports betting will be available to the public because the Lottery doesn't know how long the application process for vendors will take. That can start once the rules are published Dec. 6.
The Lottery will also need to conduct training once applications are approved. Estimates show about 1,400 locations around the state would qualify to apply for a license.
Earlier this year the Lottery anticipated a year-end rollout, but a spokeswoman said Thursday it's not possible to announce a specific timeline because of the factors involved.
To participate in sports wagering, users will download an app on their phone that allows them to plan out wagers, but a bet can't be placed on the mobile app unless the person is in a licensed wagering location. Bets can also be made at kiosks in the locations for people who do not want to use the mobile app.
There was some objection in October to rules that require betting to be in locations with appropriate alcohol licenses. The Lottery said the rules, which it wrote, follow legislative intent and piggyback on the alcohol licensing system to ensure sports betting licenses, like those for alcohol, are distributed across the state and not concentrated in certain areas.
Bryan Costigan, security director for the Lottery, said Thursday at the commission meeting the Lottery received several comments that sports betting should be opened up to broader venues.
Betting will be offered on professional and collegiate sports. The Lottery is still working on the parameters and types of bets to be offered, but it's expected to be similar to what gamblers would see in Las Vegas.
Costigan said that the Lottery has met with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and explained how a self-exclusion tool will work to let those who should not be betting on sports, such as coaches or officials, rule themselves out from participating.
“We’re providing them with the tools," Costigan said.
Lawmakers earlier this year passed two bills to legalize sports betting after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2018 paved the way. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a bill that would have opened wagering to a private market, and signed one that operated it under the Lottery.
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