Montana is far from the largest destination for people who enjoy gambling, but it has a large gambling industry. Although our state is one of the most sparsely populated in the nation, it is home to nearly 300 gambling establishments and has some of the loosest gambling restrictions in the nation.
That’s not to say that anything goes. The gambling industry is quite strictly regulated, and the state government keeps a close eye on it.
Rather than being located in large casinos, gambling in Montana is largely confined to slot machines inside of other businesses. In fact, in order to have a gambling license, an establishment must also have a liquor license.
Recently, the state legislature rejected a bill that would have raised the maximum bets for slot machines from $2 to $3. The maximum payout for a single play would increase from $800 to $1,199. Proponents said the increase would be good for business, but opponents worried that it would contribute to problems related to addiction.
The failure of the bill means that the upper limit for a single bet on a slot machine will remain at $2. The maximum payout for a single play remains at $800.
Navigating the regulations
Besides slot machines, Montana state law also allows gambling primarily in the forms of poker, keno, bingo and the state lottery. It may also be legal in sports pools, raffles and some other contexts where the participants wager against each other, rather than betting against the house. One must be 18 or older to legally gamble in the state.
Note that our state also has some gambling on American Indian land. This gambling is overseen by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and abides by a different set of regulations.