Gambling Laws in Montana

Montana Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Montana?

The gambling laws in Montana permit a large and dynamic gaming industry, making Montana one of the leading gambling havens in the United States. Montana has special status among US states along with Nevada, Oregon, and Delaware as the only four states where sports gambling is legally allowed. This status was created by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which in 1991 determined which states had special status. Other legal distinctions mark Montana as one of the USA's most pro-gambling jurisdictions, particularly the Montana casino laws.

Playing Poker Legally Under Montana Law

To understand how Montana law views poker, we need to pull the camera back a bit and examine the general approach Montana takes to gambling. State law (see Section 23-5-151 of the Montana code) explicitly prohibits all forms of gambling in Montana, except for those that are "specifically authorized by statute." And to gamble in Montana - per Section 23-5-112 - means risking anything with any value on any outcome that involves chance "in whole or in part."

After reviewing those aspects of Montana law, it's pretty clear that any reasonable interpretation of the code would conclude poker qualifies as gambling. The next question we have to address concerns the exceptions to Montana's anti-gambling laws - those forms of gambling "authorized by statute."

In Montana, that list includes tribal casinos and licensed card rooms. There is also a substantial amount of charitable gambling in the state of Montana. Per the regulations set forth by the Montana Department of Justice, which is responsible for overseeing charitable gambling in the state, poker is among the games that can be offered at duly licensed charitable events.

The last question most poker players have about Montana gambling law concerns the legality of their home game. Contained within the Montana code is an exemption for such games - refer to Section 23-5-112, subsection (13) and you'll find that "social card games" don't fall under the rubric of gambling in Montana - as long as the prizes are of "minimal value." Unfortunately, the law does not provide any more specifics in terms of what value thresholds constitute "minimal," so the legal picture for real-money home games of poker in Montana remains a bit blurry at the edges.

Montana Casino Laws

You might not think of Montana as a leading pro-gambling state, but few American states embrace gaming the way the Big Sky Country does. Of all the US states, only Nevada and California have more gambling establishments than Montana. It's no wonder people from Montana also call their home the Treasure State. In total, Montana has 141 casino gaming establishments.

Montana's legislature gives regulatory power to the Gambling Control Division, an adjunct of the Montana Department of Justice located in Helena. The Gambling Control Division has offices throughout the state in cities like Billings, Glasgow, Bozeman, Glendive, Butt, Kalispell, Great Falls, and Missoula. These are some of the cities with the largest number of gambling halls in them. Let's spell out which cities have the most gambling interests.

Learn About Other State Laws

Montana Cities with Multiple Casinos

Billings, Montana has 21 different gambling venues, including 3 Lucky Lil's, Bug's Casino, the Golden Dust Casino, Casino Royale, and the All Aboard Casino. Many of these places have no more than 20 or so gambling machines, though a few have one or two casino gaming tables. Tahitian Nites has 32 bingo seats, while Shooter's Sports Bar has 20 video poker machines and two Texas Hold'em poker tables.

The pattern follows in cities across Montana. Butte has 7 casinos, while Bozeman has 6 casinos. Great Falls has 4 gambling halls, while Kalispell has a whopping 10 casinos. Livingston and Miles City each have 5 casinos, while Missoula has 8 gaming dens. Wolfpoint and Whitefish each has three casinos, while a whole host of cities have 2 establishments. Montana cities with 2 casinos include Shelby, Rocker, Poplar, Milltown, Lolo, Lewiston, Laurel, Havre, Harlem, Hardin, Hamilton, East Helena, Cut Bank, Columbia Falls, Box Elder, Belgrade, and Aanaconda.

Montana towns and cities with one single casino include Big Timber, Boulder, Browning, Cardwell, Chinook, Colstrip, Columbus, Conrad, Crow Agency, Deer Lodge, Eureka, Evaro, Forsyth, Kalispel, Lame Deer, Libby, Plains, Polson, Sidney, Stevensville, Superior, Thompson Falls, Three Forks, Townsend, West Billings, White Sulphur, and Whitehall.

Montana Lottery Laws

Montana also has laws which allow for an official lottery. State level games include Montana Cash, Wild Card 2, 10 Spot, Bullseye Bucks, Hula Moola Doubler, Montana Scratch, Montana Millionaire, EZ Play, Hot Lotto Sizzler, Montana Sports Action Fantasy Football, and Montana Sports Action Fantasy Racing. Limited time games includes games like the 2nd Chance Sweepstakes for a Harley Davidson Motorcycle. Besides these local games, lottery players can also buy tickets for the Powerball and Mega Millions multistate lotteries.

Montana Racing Laws

The Montana Department of Livestock gives authority over horse racing to its Board of Horse Racing. The Board of Horse Racing is given responsibility for regulating the live horse racing industry and the off-track betting using simulcasts. This means the board establishes race dates, medical standards and veterinary practices in connection to horse racing meets, and licensing all racing personnel in Montana. The board also ensures compliance to the state laws and Racing Board rule, while providing investigations, auditing oversight, and supervision of the pari-mutuel racing system of Montana. This board is maintained by a 1% tax on all parimutuel wagers placed in Montana.

Montana has four race tracks. These locations are Yellowstone Downs in Billings, the Montana Expo Park in Great Falls, the Miles City Bucking Horse Sales in Miles City, and the Missoula County Fairgrounds in Missoula, MT.

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