HELENA – Sports Bet Montana is doing well, according to Montana Lottery, which operates the sports betting service, despite its unusual introduction.
The program was billed as a major moneymaker for the state when it was proposed to lawmakers, with sports betting an estimated $ 1.5-2 million in revenue for the state’s general fund and an additional $ 3-4 million for bring a school scholarship fund for science and technology learning. However, for the first year of the program, through no fault of Montana Lottery, these expected returns would not be achieved.
Sports Bet Montana officially launched on March 11, 2020 with kiosks limited to bars, restaurants and casinos. That was the same day that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic for COVID-19. Most professional sports had been canceled within the week. By the end of the month, the state was under a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19, allowing companies to take away only.
It would be months before restaurants, bars, and casinos reopen for personal services, and most professional sports are back by September.
How did Sports Bet Montana perform outside of the pandemic closings?
According to the Montana Lottery, 926,636 bets totaling $ 44,467,549 were placed between September 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021. The total payout to bettors was $ 38,865,448 (87.4%) with $ 5,602,101 (12.6%) being gross gaming revenue.
Impressive numbers when you consider that the Montana Lottery has done very little in terms of publicity or awareness due to the pandemic.
“To start into an unexpected headwind like COVID and still have the kind of sales we have. Sports betting is consistently our number two product in terms of revenue, and it’s damn good to catch up on a 30-year successful lottery in one year, ”said Jennifer McKee, Montana Lottery communications manager.
McKee added that the numbers are a pretty good indicator of the local desire for sports betting.
There are 434 Sports Bet Montana retail locations across the state, from large cities like Billings (109,843) to small towns like Bainville (271). Bainville even has two locations that offer Sports Bet Montana.
Currently, the state is holding events nationwide at venues that feature the game to educate the public about what it is and how to place bets.
“Most of the sports betting in the United States has been goal-oriented, even if it is run by state lotteries where you go to a place to do it,” McKee explained. “We’ve tried something different where the place you go is your local bar, and we want a significant portion of the economic benefit of that to stay in your local bar.”
From September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021, approximately $ 2.6 million was returned to these facilities in retail commissions.
The average bet was $ 47.99, with 80 percent of the bets placed before the game. In terms of the sports that people in Montana bet on, basketball was number one at 32%, followed by baseball and soccer, both of which were at 21%. (Basketball – 32%, baseball – 21%, soccer – 21%, soccer – 14%, hockey – 5%, tennis – 3%, golf – 2%, MMA – 2%, other
Sports Bet Montana isn’t the only legal way to pay money for games. Licensed gaming providers such as bars and casinos may offer sports pools and sports tab games that are regulated by the Montana Department of Justice, rather than the Montana Lottery.
Governor Greg Gianforte signed on March 25, 2021 House bill 193 Introduced into law that significantly changed this type of wagering in the state. Previously, games were limited to how much a person could wager to participate, with a maximum payout of $ 2,500. As of October 1, 2021, there is no limit to the stakes in these games. Unlike Sports Bet Montana, the state does not see any cut as the pool must be paid out in full.