Two Sports Betting Bills Going to Governor’s Desk in Montana
By the end of the week, before the Easter holiday weekend, Montana’s Senate approved SB 330, making that two sports betting bills that will go to Governor Steve Bullock’s desk after Easter. The first, H 725, was passed on Wednesday. It’s expected that the Governor will sign at least one of the bills and Montana will be on its way to legalizing sports betting.
About the Two Sports Betting Bills
The two bills are H 725 and S 330, and they are two of the three sports gambling bills that were sent off to legislature. The one that didn’t make it, one that would have legalized pari-mutuel sports betting, died on the floor of the Senate.
Both bills will allow for limited mobile betting, much like Mississippi’s arrangement. In Montana, bettors could place bets on their mobile devices as long as they were within the range of a kiosk.
S330 calls for sports gambling to start in June 2020, but H 725 would do a six-month rollout using its current vendor, Itralot, to run the sports gambling.
Sports betting in Montana would be carried out through kiosks that would be found throughout the state, and both lottery sports gambling and attorney general-regulated kiosks could be in the same establishment. This would allow customers to choose which operator they want to use.
About Bill S 330
S 330 was originally filed in December 2018 by Mark Blasdel (R-SD4), and was passed this Wednesday by a 33 to 17 vote. This legislation would have the state’s Department of Justice regulate sports betting.
Blasdel’s bill will allow for different companies to hire different partners. For example, Golden Entertainment has an arrangement with William Hill. Century Gaming might be close to an agreement with MGM.
About Bill H 725
H 725 is by Representative Ryan Lynch, (D-District 76), and is a lottery bill. It passed late on Thursday with a vote of 34 to 16.
Blasdel has been working with Lynch to get both pieces of legislature passed. Both bills have bi-partisan support. Speaking of how the two worked together, Blasdel said:
“It was a lot of work. It’s because we’re a pretty limited gambling state, and there’s been a pretty major push this session with a lot of gambling bills, so I think there has been some fatigue by the end of the session.”
Bullock has 10 days to either veto or sign. If he doesn’t do either, the legislation will automatically become law. If the Governor signs both, or even one, Montana will become the first state to pass sports betting legislation in 2019.
Will Bullock Sign Both Bills?
Blasdel says that Bullock favors the lottery bill, but he’s working on convincing the Governor that there’s a need for both bills, since they complement each other:
“If the lottery version is the only game in town, people who aren’t satisfied with that product will have nowhere else to turn. With both models in place, the sports bettor will have more options to choose from and it will keep the odds more in check.”
He also said,
“We’re trying to get the governor to understand there’s an opportunity for all of them here, and that will ultimately be better for the sports bettor and the state.”
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