A Montana judge has overturned a rule that limited sports betting in the state to businesses that held alcoholic beverage licences following a legal challenge by a local investment group.
Montana is currently in T16th on the Wedge Index and regulated sports-betting officially launched there in March this year.
However it is operated on an exclusive basis by Intralot through the Montana Lottery’s app Sports Bet Montana and is limited to in-person betting on the premises of the licence holder.
No alcohol licence required
Lewis and Clark County District Judge Kathy Seeley found that in creating rules to carry out the new sports betting law, the Montana Lottery ran contrary to lawmakers’ intent when it required an alcoholic beverage licence.
Judge Seeley said: “If the Legislature intended to limit sports wagering facilities in this way, the Legislature could have done so. The Court will not insert a provision that the Legislature omitted.”
Lyndon Scheveck, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit on behalf of a local investment company called Arete Group, said the ruling was “a win for Montanans, when it comes to communities and not letting monopolies take advantage of Montanans and their businesses”.
Scheveck added that the ruling could see him launch a business that would offer sports betting without having to get an alcoholic beverage license.
Since March sports betting has generated $531,000 in revenues for some 250 businesses that offer it in the state. Players have bet $9.7m and collected around $8.5m in winnings during that time.
Jennifer McKee, a spokesperson for Montana Lottery, said: “This is an important decision. We’re reviewing it closely and we are in the process of determining our next steps.”
Consumers and industry observers however have also been highly critical of the product offering provided by Intralot, with odds that are described as unattractive and conducive to players looking for unregulated alternatives.
Intralot powers the Washington D.C. official betting app Gambet DC and already has the dubious honor of upending the retail-online betting paradigm.
Despite operating the only online betting app in D.C. and the pandemic restrictions, William Hill’s retail sportsbook at the Capital One Arena has taken more in bets than Gambet DC.