(UM Legislative News Service) In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal gambling law, giving individual states the power to legalize and regulate sports gambling. Now, Montana could join the 10 states that have already passed legislation opening up sports betting.
In the Montana Legislature on Wednesday, the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee heard testimony on two bills that would legalize sports betting and regulate it through the Board of Horse Racing and the Montana Lottery. Both organizations have no oversight from the Gambling Control Division.
Both bills passed out of the House last month, with House Bill 475 passing 87-9 and House Bill 725 with a 88-10 vote.
Majority Leader Rep. Brad Tschida, R-Missoula, sponsored House Bill 475, which would expand pool-based horse betting systems into other team sports.
“For those of us who don’t bet, it really has no impact on us. For those who like to bet, it’s an opportunity for them to do that in a way that is organized and well maintained,” Tschida said.
The second bill heard was House Bill 725, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Lynch, D-Butte, which would allow the Montana State Lottery to offer sports betting, which already offers pool-based betting for football and auto racing.
“The reason the Lottery makes sense is that it’s already existing. So we have existing infrastructure that’s been already laid out across the state. What this does would allow the Lottery to authority and the opportunity to offer sports wagering within communities,” Lynch said.
There were no opponents to either bill during the committee hearing.
Tim Pierce is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Greater Montana Foundation and the Montana Newspaper Association.