A rule limiting sports betting in Montana to businesses with an alcoholic beverage license has been overturned.
A Lewis and Clark County District court on Wednesday found the rule ran contrary to what lawmakers intended when they authorized sports betting in 2019. Sports betting didn’t get underway in Montana until March of this year.
The rule was challenged by Arete Group, a Billings limited liability company registered to the attorney who filed the lawsuit, Lyndon Scheveck.
“It’s a win for Montanans, when it comes to communities and not letting monopolies take advantage of Montanans and their businesses,” Scheveck said.
Scheveck said he was working to launch a business that would offer sports betting. The ruling gives him more leeway, without having to wait for an alcoholic beverage license – although Scheveck said eventually he’d like to go that route.
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 license.
“If the Legislature intended to limit sports wagering facilities in this way, the Legislature could have done so,” the judge wrote. “The Court will not insert a provision that the Legislature omitted.”
A spokeswoman for Montana Lottery said the agency was currently reviewing the judge's order.
“This is an important decision,” wrote Jennifer McKee. “We’re reviewing it closely and we are in the process of determining our next steps.”
Since its rollout in March, sports betting in Montana has brought $531,000 in revenue to the approximately 250 businesses that currently offer it.
Those individuals playing sports betting games have bet a total of $9.7 million and collected $8.5 million in winnings in that time.
Those bets have generated $1.2 million in funds that will go to STEM scholarships for Montana high school graduates attending in-state public or tribal colleges, as well as to the state’s general fund.