Decision by Judge Overturns a Montana Sports Betting Rule

Decision by Judge Overturns a Montana Sports Betting Rule
© PA

A Montana state rule that limited sports betting to just businesses with an alcohol beverage license within the state has been overturned.

Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Kathy Seeley found the rule was not what lawmakers intended when they authorized sports wagering last year, according to The Billings Gazette.

RELATED: More about Montana sports betting and gaming

“If the Legislature intended to limit sports wagering facilities in this way, the Legislature could have done so,” the judge wrote on Oct. 28. “The Court will not insert a provision that the Legislature omitted.”

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed the sports betting law in early May 2019, making Montana the ninth U.S. market to legalize wagering. State officials had hoped to get the market operational by 2019 NFL season, but it took until March 2020 for it to launch.

The Montana State Lottery’s Sports Bet Montana app is operated by Intralot, which also runs the D.C. Lottery sports betting app and has been criticized for its questionable odds. Montana is the first state to offer sports betting solely through lottery-run physical locations.

Since it began seven months ago, sports betting in Montana has brought in more than a half a million dollars in revenue ($531,000) to about 250 businesses that have sports betting at their establishments, according to the story in The Gazette.

Money Goes to STEM Scholarships

Sports betting has generated $1.2 million in funds for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) scholarships to go to Montana high school graduates attending in-state public or tribal colleges, The Gazette story said. Money is also allocated to the state’s general fund.

The rule that was overturned last week was challenged by Arete Group LLC, a downtown Billings-based limited liability company created in Oct. 2018, by attorney Lyndon Scheveck, partner in Scheveck & Salminen Law Firm PLLC.

“It’s a win for Montanans, when it comes to communities and not letting monopolies take advantage of Montanans and their businesses,” Scheveck told The Gazette.

Scheveck also told the paper he was working to start a business that would offer sports betting and this ruling gives him more leeway, without having to wait for an alcoholic beverage license, which he said he would also like to eventually pursue in the future.