Montana is not a boisterous sports state. Not only do they lack a professional team, but they don't boast any collegiate football powerhouses that are often found in rural parts of the country. Their rooting interests are erected upon minor league baseball—and Single-A affiliates at that. The reason why is not too complicated: Montana doesn't have the population to support major sports franchises or even collegiate programs.
Montana Sports Betting Law
They rank 44th among all states, with a population of just over 1 million, as of the July 2016 consensus. Sports betting laws in Montana are predictably stringent to nonexistent. That's what happens when you don't have a prospering score of franchise and college programs to motivate reform. They join Delaware, Nevada and Oregon as the fourth state that's allowed to accept sports wagers in their casinos.
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Casinos or Bust
If you're looking to gamble in Montana, finding a casino is the way to go—mostly because it's almost the only way to go. Big corporations are not yet allowed to open establishments in the state, but there are five full-service tribal casinos, in addition to a pair of Class II operations, which are places that offer bingo-type games that pit you against fellow players rather than the house.
You won't find these places in a cluster like other states as Montana isn't trying to make itself into a destination gambling paradise. They're more concerned with propping up their $1 billion in yearly casino revenue with accessibility to residents, which is why all of these casinos are located in different towns.
Ebbing Lottery Program
Montana does have a state lottery, but it's not by any means impressive. Their program ranks 45th in the country, which actually pins them to a lower standing than their population total—hence the importance of generating profits from casinos.
No Daily Fantasy Sports
Residents of Montana are not able to legally bet on daily fantasy sports, and the local government has no plans to change this stance. That said, the state lottery does offer fantasy-type bets for horse racing and football, a play no doubt aimed at trying to effectively, and meticulously, regulate revenue manufactured from gambling.
Flexible Social Gambling Laws
Staging your fantasy football leagues with cash prizes is, however, deemed legal in Montana. The state mostly frowns upon domestic online gambling, which is why it quashes the uses of websites like Draft Kings and FanDuel.
But if you sign up for a league with your buddies on ESPN or Yahoo or any place like that, you can construct your own prize pool amongst your group without worrying about any legal issues.
This position applies to basically all gaming types. Montana won't let you run full-fledged casino nights that see you charge a cover or turn a profit off of bets, but raffles, bingo events, poker games, etc. all seem to be legal under their social gambling protocol when the participants and wagerers themselves are the only people who stand to make money.
Monta Gambling Law Overview
Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren't allowed in Monta at this time.
- Casino Gambling: Legal (but only tribal)
- Tribal Gambling: Legal
- Poker: Legal
- Horse-Race Betting: Legal
- Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
- Lottery: Legal
- Daily Fantasy Betting: Not legal
- Social Gambling: Legal
- Charitable Gambling: Legal
- Online Gambling: Not specified
Montana Sports Teams
Due to the absence of professional teams in Montana, we will split our focus between in-house squads and the most popular professional factions that are located outside state lines.
Billings Mustangs (Minor League Baseball)
The Billings Mustangs are a minor league baseball affiliate of MLB's Cincinnati Reds. More specifically, they are a Pioneer League Rookie affiliate, which puts them at the Single-A level. This particular organization has bounced around MLB's minor league ranks in decades past but was defunct for a quite a while until 2008, when it resurfaced to represent the Reds.
Missoula Osprey (Minor League Baseball)
What a name, right?
The Missoula Osprey are also members of the Pioneer League. They are the Class-A affiliate for MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks and play their home games at Allegiance Field in Missoula, Montana. The Osprey have been around the Pioneer League for a few decades, but they didn't join the Diamondbacks as a Single-A affiliate until 1996.
If you are wondering why minor league baseball is so prevalent in Montana, since most states don't have multiple MLB affiliates, look no further than the MLB organizations themselves. It's cheaper to operate semi-pro teams in these rural states, plus these is the added benefit of knowing it's more difficult for prospects to get into night-life trouble when there's no night life of which to speak.
Seattle Seahawks (NFL)
The Seattle Seahawks are a no-brainer pick here given Montana's relatively close proximity to Washington. It helps, too, that they have been among the most relevant squads in the NFL since head coach Pete Carroll took the reins in 2010. During his seven-year run, the Seahawks have made six playoff appearances, earned two Super Bowl cameos and rattled off one championship.
To be frank, though, Montana is not among the Seahawks' biggest supporters. Oregon and Washington are their primary drivers of interest. They get leftover-level attention from Idaho, Alaska and Montana because of their location. They're much further north than any other professional franchise. Sure, there are diehards. There are always out-of-state diehards. But this is a relationship borne more from convenience than anything obligation and loyalty.
Montana's Biggest Sporting Event of the Year
Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals
Because, what else? Rodeos are popular in more rural parts of the country, and Montana is no different. Their interest in this sport is higher than most other areas, evidenced by this particular competition dating back to 1979. This event typically takes place during the second week in January over a three-day period at Montana Expo Park.
Though not nearly as large as various other annual events located throughout the United States, a few thousand people do show up every year to take in this rodeo competition.