Montana Lottery Won’t Appeal Judge’s Sports Betting Ruling

Montana Lottery Won’t Appeal Judge’s Sports Betting Ruling
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The Montana Lottery has decided not to appeal a decision by Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Kathy Seeley overturning a Montana state rule that limited sports betting to just businesses with an alcohol beverage license.

“We have decided not to appeal the Oct. 28 order by Judge Seeley,” Jennifer McKee, communications manager for the Montana Lottery, said Friday. “We are here to make sure established businesses can create, maintain and meet order and specific responsibilities within the entire code of the license, when applying. We don’t want to disrupt the entire foundation.

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“This was only one part of many parts that go into meeting the requirements of having a sports betting license. Judge Seeley administered a ruling on only one those requirements. The judge’s order is important to some applicants, but there is a whole lot of requirements and standards that one must meet in order to obtain a license.”

Seeley had found the rule was not what lawmakers intended when they authorized sports wagering last year.

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

Sports Betting Signed Into Law in May 2019

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed the sports betting bill into 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 didn't launch until March 2020.

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 since it began seven months ago, according to the story in The Gazette.

“One of the elements to getting a sports betting license is that you have to be offering something at your business other than just lottery or sports betting. A lot of our sales agents have gas, groceries at their businesses, so they are offering something besides gaming,” said McKee, who has served in her position since 2015. “We are the fourth largest state in the country and our lottery and sports betting is designed to be successful in that environment, as we do not have a huge metropolis or destination casino within the state.”

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.