Montana residents should be aware of the gambling laws pertaining to online gambling before they choose an internet-gambling site or gamble online. It is illegal to operate and internet-gambling site in Montana but it is not illegal to play at internet gambling sites. There are no written laws that state online gambling is illegal and that makes it difficult for authorities to arrest or convict Montana residents for gambling online. We would like to remind readers that we are not lawyers and you should talk with one if you want more details about Montana gambling laws.
Montana Gambling Laws
Article III, Section 9 Gambling. All forms of gambling, lotteries, and gift enterprises are prohibited unless authorized by acts of the legislature or by the people through initiative or referendum.
Public policy of state concerning gambling –
(1) The legislature finds that for the purpose of ensuring the proper gambling environment in this state it is necessary and desirable to adopt a public policy regarding public gambling activities in Montana. The legislature therefore declares it is necessary to:
(a) create and maintain a uniform regulatory climate that assures players, owners, tourists, citizens, and others that the gambling industry in this state is fair and is not influenced by corrupt persons, organizations, or practices;
(b) protect legal public gambling activities from unscrupulous players and vendors and detrimental influences;
(c) protect the public from unscrupulous proprietors and operators of gambling establishments, games, and devices;
(d) protect the state and local governments from those who would conduct illegal gambling activities that deprive those governments of their tax revenues;
(e) protect the health, safety, and welfare of all citizens of this state, including those who do not gamble, by regulating gambling activities; and
(f) promote programs necessary to provide assistance to those who are adversely affected by legalized gambling, including compulsive gamblers and their families.
(2) The legislature adopts the policy that an applicant for a license or permit or other department approval under parts 1 through 8 of this chapter does not have a right to the issuance of a license or permit or the granting of the approval sought. The issuance of a license or permit issued or other department approval granted pursuant to the provisions of parts 1 through 8 of this chapter is a privilege revocable only for good cause. A holder does not acquire a vested right in the license or permit issued or other department approval granted. A license or permit issued under parts 1 through 8 of this chapter may not be sold, assigned, leased, or transferred.
(3) Revenue to fund the expense of administration and control of gambling as regulated by parts 1 through 8 of this chapter must be derived solely from fees, taxes, and penalties on gambling activities, except the gambling activities of the Montana state lottery and the parimutuel industry.
Definitions. Unless the context requires otherwise, the following definitions apply to parts 1 through 8 of this chapter:
(1) “Applicant” means a person who has applied for a license or permit issued by the department pursuant to parts 1 through 8 of this chapter.
(2) “Application” means a written request for a license or permit issued by the department. The department shall adopt rules describing the forms and information required for issuance of a license.
(3) “Associated gambling business” means a person who provides a service or product to a licensed gambling business and who:
(a) has a reason to possess or maintain control over gambling devices;
(b) has access to proprietary information or gambling tax information; or
(c) is a party in processing gambling transactions.
(4) “Authorized equipment” means, with respect to live keno or bingo, equipment that may be inspected by the department and that randomly selects the numbers.
(5) “Bingo” means a gambling activity played for prizes with a card bearing a printed design of 5 columns. The letters B-I-N-G-O must appear above the design, with each letter above one of the columns. More than 75 numbers may not be used. One or more numbers may appear in each square, except for the center square, which may be considered a free play. Numbers must be randomly drawn using authorized equipment until the game is won by the person or persons who first cover one or more previously designated arrangements of numbers on the bingo card.
(6) “Bingo caller” means a person 18 years of age or older who, using authorized equipment, announces the order of the numbers drawn in live bingo.
(7) “Card game table” or “table” means a live card game table:
(a) authorized by permit and made available to the public on the premises of a licensed gambling operator; or
(b) operated by a senior citizen center.
(8) “Card game tournament” means a gambling activity for which a permit has been issued involving participants who pay valuable consideration for the opportunity to compete against each other in a series of live card games conducted over a designated period of time.
(9) “Dealer” means a person with a dealer’s license issued under part 3 of this chapter.
(10) “Department” means the department of justice.
(11) “Distributor” means a person who:
(a) purchases or obtains from a licensed manufacturer, distributor, or route operator equipment of any kind for use in gambling activities; and
(b) sells the equipment to a licensed distributor, route operator, or operator.
(12) (a) “Gambling” or “gambling activity” means risking any money, credit, deposit, check, property, or other thing of value for a gain that is contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, or the operation of a gambling device or gambling enterprise.
(b) The term does not mean conducting or participating in a promotional game of chance and does not include amusement games regulated by Title 23, chapter 6, part 1.
(c) The term does not include social card games played solely for prizes of minimal value, defined as class I gaming by 25 U.S.C. 2703.
(13) “Gambling device” means a mechanical, electromechanical, or electronic device, machine, slot machine, instrument, apparatus, contrivance, scheme, or system used or intended for use in any gambling activity.
(14) “Gambling enterprise” means an activity, scheme, or agreement or an attempted activity, scheme, or agreement to provide gambling or a gambling device to the public.
(15) (a) “Gift enterprise” means a gambling activity in which persons have qualified to obtain property to be awarded by purchasing or agreeing to purchase goods or services.
(b) The term does not mean:
(i) a cash or merchandise attendance prize or premium that county fair commissioners of agricultural fairs and rodeo associations may give away at public drawings at fairs and rodeos;
(ii) a promotional game of chance; or
(iii) an amusement game regulated under Title 23, chapter 6.
(16) “Gross proceeds” means gross revenue received less prizes paid out.
(17) “House player” means a person participating in a card game who has a financial relationship with the operator, card room contractor, or dealer or who has received money or chips from the operator, card room contractor, or dealer to participate in a card game.
(18) “Illegal gambling device” means a gambling device not specifically authorized by statute or by the rules of the department. The term includes:
(a) a ticket or card, by whatever name known, containing concealed numbers or symbols that may match numbers or symbols designated in advance as prize winners, including a pull tab, punchboard, push card, tip board, pickle ticket, break-open, or jar game, except for one used under Title 23, chapter 7, or under part 5 of this chapter or in a promotional game of chance approved by the department; and
(b) an apparatus, implement, or device, by whatever name known, specifically designed to be used in conducting an illegal gambling enterprise, including a faro box, faro layout, roulette wheel, roulette table, craps table, or slot machine, except as provided in 23-5-153.
(19) “Illegal gambling enterprise” means a gambling enterprise that violates or is not specifically authorized by a statute or a rule of the department. The term includes:
(a) a card game, by whatever name known, involving any bank or fund from which a participant may win money or other consideration and that receives money or other consideration lost by the participant and includes the card games of blackjack, twenty-one, jacks or better, baccarat, or chemin de fer;
(b) a dice game, by whatever name known, in which a participant wagers on the outcome of the roll of one or more dice, including craps, hazard, or chuck-a-luck, but not including activities authorized by 23-5-160;
(c) sports betting, by whatever name known, in which a person places a wager on the outcome of an athletic event, including bookmaking, parlay bets, or sultan sports cards, but not including those activities authorized in Title 23, chapter 4, and parts 2, 5, and 8 of this chapter;
(d) credit gambling; and
(e) internet gambling.
(20) (a) “Internet gambling”, by whatever name known, includes but is not limited to the conduct of any legal or illegal gambling enterprise through the use of communications technology that allows a person using money, paper checks, electronic checks, electronic transfers of money, credit cards, debit cards, or any other instrumentality to transmit to a computer information to assist in the placing of a bet or wager and corresponding information related to the display of the game, game outcomes, or other similar information.
(b) The term does not include the operation of a simulcast facility or advance deposit wagering with a licensed advance deposit wagering hub operator allowed by Title 23, chapter 4, or the state lottery provided for in Title 23, chapter 7. If all aspects of the gaming are conducted on Indian lands in conformity with federal statutes and with administrative regulations of the national Indian gaming commission, the term does not include class II gaming or class III gaming as defined by 25 U.S.C. 2703.
(21) “Keno” means a game of chance in which prizes are awarded using a card with 8 horizontal rows and 10 columns on which a player may pick up to 10 numbers. A keno caller, using authorized equipment, shall select at random at least 20 numbers out of numbers between 1 and 80, inclusive.
(22) “Keno caller” means a person 18 years of age or older who, using authorized equipment, announces the order of the numbers drawn in live keno.
(23) “License” means a license for an operator, dealer, card room contractor, manufacturer of devices not legal in Montana, sports tab game seller, manufacturer of electronic live bingo or keno equipment, other manufacturer, distributor, or route operator that is issued to a person by the department.
(24) “Licensee” means a person who has received a license from the department.
(25) “Live card game” or “card game” means a card game that is played in public between persons on the premises of a licensed gambling operator or in a senior citizen center.
(26) (a) “Lottery” means a scheme, by whatever name known, for the disposal or distribution of property among persons who have paid or promised to pay valuable consideration for the chance of obtaining the property or a portion of it or for a share or interest in the property upon an agreement, understanding, or expectation that it is to be distributed or disposed of by lot or chance.
(b) The term does not mean lotteries authorized under Title 23, chapter 7.
(27) “Manufacturer” means a person who:
(a) assembles from raw materials or subparts a completed piece of equipment or pieces of equipment of any kind to be used as a gambling device and who sells the equipment directly to a licensed distributor, route operator, or operator; or
(b) possesses gambling devices or components of gambling devices for the purpose of testing them.
(28) “Nonprofit organization” means a nonprofit corporation or nonprofit charitable, religious, scholastic, educational, veterans’, fraternal, beneficial, civic, senior citizens’, or service organization established to support charitable activities, scholarships or educational grants, or community service projects.
(29) “Operator” means a person who purchases, receives, or acquires, by lease or otherwise, and operates or controls for use in public a gambling device or gambling enterprise authorized under parts 1 through 8 of this chapter.
(30) “Permit” means approval from the department to make available for public play a gambling device or gambling enterprise approved by the department pursuant to parts 1 through 8 of this chapter.
(31) “Person” or “persons” means both natural and artificial persons and all partnerships, corporations, associations, clubs, fraternal orders, and societies, including religious and charitable organizations.
(32) “Premises” means the physical building or property within or upon which a licensed gambling activity occurs, as stated on an operator’s license application and approved by the department.
(33) “Promotional game of chance” means a scheme, by whatever name known, for the disposal or distribution of property among persons who have not paid or are not expected to pay any valuable consideration or who have not purchased or are not expected to purchase any goods or services for a chance to obtain the property, a portion of it, or a share in it. The property is disposed of or distributed by simulating a gambling enterprise authorized by parts 1 through 8 of this chapter or by operating a device or enterprise approved by the department that was manufactured or intended for use for purposes other than gambling.
(34) “Public gambling” means gambling conducted in:
(a) a place, building, or conveyance to which the public has access or may be permitted to have access;
(b) a place of public resort, including but not limited to a facility owned, managed, or operated by a partnership, corporation, association, club, fraternal order, or society, including a religious or charitable organization; or
(c) a place, building, or conveyance to which the public does not have access if players are publicly solicited or the gambling activity is conducted in a predominantly commercial manner.
(35) “Raffle” means a form of lottery in which each participant pays valuable consideration for a ticket to become eligible to win a prize. Winners must be determined by a random selection process approved by department rule.
(36) “Route operator” means a person who:
(a) purchases from a licensed manufacturer, route operator, or distributor equipment of any kind for use in a gambling activity;
(b) leases the equipment to a licensed operator for use by the public; and
(c) may sell to a licensed operator equipment that had previously been authorized to be operated on a premises.
(37) “Senior citizen center” means a facility operated by a nonprofit or governmental organization that provides services to senior citizens in the form of daytime or evening educational or recreational activities and does not provide living accommodations to senior citizens. Services qualifying under this definition must be recognized in the state plan on aging adopted by the department of public health and human services.
(38) (a) “Slot machine” means a mechanical, electrical, electronic, or other gambling device, contrivance, or machine that, upon insertion of a coin, currency, token, credit card, or similar object or upon payment of any valuable consideration, is available to play or operate, the play or operation of which, whether by reason of the skill of the operator or application of the element of chance, or both, may deliver or entitle the person playing or operating the gambling device to receive cash, premiums, merchandise, tokens, or anything of value, whether the payoff is made automatically from the machine or in any other manner.
(b) This definition does not apply to video gambling machines authorized under part 6 of this chapter.
(39) “Video gambling machine” is a gambling device specifically authorized by part 6 of this chapter and the rules of the department.
Losses at illegal gambling may be recovered in civil action. A person, or the person’s dependent or guardian, who, by playing or betting at an illegal gambling device or illegal gambling enterprise, loses money, property, or any other thing of value and pays and delivers it to another person connected with the operation or conduct of the illegal gambling device or illegal gambling enterprise, within 1 year following the person’s loss, may:
(1) bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover the loss;
(2) recover the costs of the civil action and exemplary damages of no less than $500 and no more than $5,000; and
(3) join as a defendant any person having an interest in the illegal gambling device or illegal gambling enterprise.
Gambling prohibited. Except as specifically authorized by statute, all forms of public gambling, lotteries, and gift enterprises are prohibited.
Gambling on cash basis — penalties.
(1) (a) In every gambling activity, except raffles as authorized in 23-5-413 and card games authorized in part 3 of this chapter and normally scored using points, the consideration paid for the chance to play must be made in cash. A check or debit card may be used to obtain cash to participate in a gambling activity. A participant shall present the cash needed to play the game as the game is being played. If a check or debit card is used to obtain cash on the premises of a licensee then it must be delivered and accepted unconditionally. A licensee or employee of a licensee may not hold a check or other evidence of indebtedness for redemption pending the outcome of a gambling activity.
(b) Credit gambling is prohibited. Credit gambling is offering or accepting as part of the price of participation in a gambling activity or as payment of a debt incurred in a gambling activity:
(i) a check, credit card, or debit card held pending the outcome of a gambling activity;
(ii) a loan of any kind at any time from or on behalf of a licensee;
(iii) any form of deferred payment, including a note, IOU, post-dated check, hold check, or other evidence of indebtedness; or
(iv) a check issued or delivered that is accepted by the licensee with the knowledge that it will not be paid by the depository.
(2) A person who violates this section is guilty of a criminal offense under 23-5-156 and must be punished in accordance with 23-5-161 or 23-5-162.
(1) The department shall adopt rules that:
(a) implement 23-5-637;
(b) describe the video gambling machines authorized by this part and state the specifications for video gambling machines authorized by this part, including a description of the images and the minimum area of a screen that depicts a bingo, poker, or keno game;
(c) allow video gambling machines to be imported into this state and used for the purposes of trade shows, exhibitions, and similar activities;
(d) allow each video gambling machine to offer any combination of approved poker, keno, and bingo games within the same video gambling machine cabinet if the owner of the video gambling machine has received approval to report video gambling machine information utilizing an approved automated accounting and reporting system or has entered into an agreement with the department to utilize an approved automated accounting and reporting system;
(e) allow, on an individual license basis, licensed machine owners and operators of machines that utilize an approved automated accounting and reporting system to:
(i) electronically acquire and use for an individual licensed premises the information and data collected for business management, accounting, and payroll purposes; however, the rules must specify that the data made available as a result of an approved automated accounting and reporting system may not be used by licensees for player tracking purposes; and
(ii) acquire and use, at the expense of a licensee, a department-approved site controller;
(f) minimize, whenever possible, the recordkeeping and retention requirements for video gambling machines that utilize an approved automated accounting and reporting system.
(2) The department’s rules for an approved automated accounting and reporting system must, at a minimum:
(a) provide for confidentiality of information received through the approved automated accounting and reporting system within the limits prescribed by 23-5-115(8) and 23-5-116;
(b) prescribe specifications for maintaining the security and integrity of the approved automated accounting and reporting system;
(c) limit and prescribe the circumstances for electronic issuance of video gambling machine permits and electronic transfer of funds for payment of taxes, fees, or penalties to the department;
(d) describe specifications and a review and testing process for approved automated accounting and reporting systems to be utilized by licensed operators, including the requirements for electronically captured data; and
(e) prescribe the frequency of reporting from an approved automated accounting and reporting system and provide exceptions for geographically isolated video gambling operators.
Sports betting prohibited –
applicability. Sections 23-5-801, 23-5-802, and 23-5-805 do not: (1) authorize betting or wagering on the outcome of an individual sports event; or (2) apply to gambling activities governed under Title 23, chapter 4, except for parimutuel facilities, parimutuel networks, or simulcast parimutuel networks conducting fantasy sports leagues, or under Title 23, chapter 5, part 2 or 5.
- Article 3, Section 9 – Gambling – Montana State Constitution
- Section 23-5-110 – Montana Public policy of the state concerning gambling
- Title 23, Chapter 5 – Gambling – Montana Code