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Montana Online Gambling Laws

Following is a comprehensive guide to understanding Montana gambling laws. We address both land based and online gambling laws, as well as a variety of platforms, including Montana online gambling, that covers a range of venues such as Montana online casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks. We also cover the topic of federal online gambling laws which could affect Montana players.

Montana Gambling Law Definitions

All forms of gambling are illegal in Montana, expect those specifically approved by law. Montana gambling law defines gambling as the risking of any money, deposit, property, credit, check or anything of value for gain contingent wholly or in part upon chance, lot or operation of a gambling device or gambling enterprise. The definition of gambling device is rather board. Under Montana gambling law, a gambling device includes any electronic, electromechanical or mechanical device, instrument, machines, apparatus, scheme, contrivance or system used or intended for use in gambling. This definition could be interpreted to include computers. Advertising for or soliciting participation in an illegal gambling activity is an offense in Montana.

Montana Gambling Laws Concerning Poker

Home poker games also referred to as social card games are legal. Montana gambling law makes an exception for such games as long as the prizes are of minimal value. The law however does not specify the minimal value or how to determine the minimal value.

Montana gambling law specifically addresses internet gambling. In fact, Montana is one of the few states to specifically outlaw internet gambling. In 2005 the state legislature passed a bill prohibiting state based internet gambling. Online poker operations within the state are therefore illegal in Montana. This law was designed to prohibit illegal gambling sites from operating in the state. There are however multiple legally licensed and certified Montana online poker sites which are regulated and located outside of the United States, based within jurisdictions which have specifically legalized online poker gambling. Hence players who participate in online poker at one of these sites is not participating in an illegal gambling operation.

Land Based Gambling Laws In Montana

Not many are aware of the fact that Montana has a large and dynamic gambling industry. Only two states - Nevada and California have more gambling facilities than Montana.

The original settlers in Montana did very much what they pleased and gambling was very common. In fact, every town had saloons where gambling took place. In 1889 the state passed laws that outlawed gambling. The saloons continued to operate despite the new laws. The state soon began to prosecute the lawbreakers. In the 1930s gambling increased once again mainly due to the repeal of prohibition. The state responded by passing the Hickey Act and legalized tables games that were approved by the local government. This was the first of the various laws passed by the Montana legislature to legalize various forms of gambling in the state.

In 1945 Montana legalized slot machines but the very next year, the State Supreme Court declared slot machines illegal. A bill seeking to legalize gambling across the state was voted down.

In 1972 the voters in the state voted in favor of giving the legislature authority over gambling decisions. The following year, the legislature passed the Card Game, Bingo, Raffles, and Sports Pool Act. In 1976 the state legalized video keno as a form of live bingo. In 1984 the State Supreme Court ruled that video poker machines are illegal slot machines. The state legislature then passed the Video Poker Machine Act in 1985 legalizing video poker. Establishments with a liquor license could keep five video poker machines and unlimited keno machines. The number of video poker machines permitted per establishment with a liquor license was increased to 20 in 1991. In 1994 some of the Indian tribes began to negotiate compacts with the state to set up casinos in Montana. However the first compact was signed much later in 1997 with two tribes. In the years that followed, the state signed compacts with three other tribes. Today there are five Indian casinos in the state. Montana also has many licensed card rooms. It is legal to play poker at casinos and card room that offer poker.

Montana Gambling Laws Concerning Horse Racing and Sports Betting

Pari mutuel wagering is legal in Montana. In the late 1990s the state legalized pari mutuel wagering on horse racing and set up the State Board of Horse Racing. The first track opened in 1997. While internet gambling was outlawed in 2005, sports betting is legal in the state. It is only one of the four states where sports betting is legal. The others are Delaware, Nevada and Oregon. Along with land based sports betting, Montana players also have access to legally licensed and regulated Montana online sports betting sites located outside of the United States. These sites legally welcome players from Montana, and the US in general. State based or US based online sports betting operations have not yet been legalized in any state, quite possibly due to the strong opposition from the major sports associations, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NCAA.

Montana Charitable Gambling Laws

Charitable gambling is legal in Montana. The Montana Department of Justice is responsible for overseeing charitable gambling in the state. Poker is one of the games that can be offered at a duly licensed charitable gambling event.

In 2002 a proposal to set up a Las Vegas style entertainment district in Butte was defeated in the state legislature. There is no bill pending before the state legislature that seeks to regulate or prohibit online gambling.

Federal Laws Concerning Legal Montana Gambling

While state based online gambling is illegal under Montana gambling law, there is no federal law that bans playing online poker or online casino games. The UIGEA bill of 2006 does not prohibit US players from participating in legal online gambling, but rather places strict regulatory oversight on how online gambling transactions can be processed. This law addresses gambling site operators and payment processors, and does not affect players.

Montana Gambling Laws

For those interested in reviewing the official laws and statutes in their original context and language, we recommend you visit the Montana Code Official Website for direct access to the official documentation.

**This site and the content contained therein is designed to be used for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to serve as or replace professional legal services, advice, or interpretation of the law. If you are seeking these types of services, we recommend that you contact an attorney. We are not attorneys and do not hold any type of law degree or certifications.