Montana Debuts Betting Stations Amid Coronavirus Fears
Just in time for March Madness and all the wagering action that comes along with it, Montana is ushering betting terminals out to the public. The rushed operation is quickly setting up terminals and training staff to supervise their operation. Many bugs are expected, and the process is likely to be sluggish, so Montana is hoping that the bettors will have patience while they begin to implement their new statewide gaming laws.
Legislators had no way of predicting the emergence of a global pandemic that would coincide with their betting machine installation efforts. The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is an intense flu-like illness and has rapidly expanded into the United States, causing the cancellation of several public events that require large gatherings of people. As the number of infected individuals rises, more closures can be expected.
No problem, right? Montana has approved betting apps, alleviating the need to visit a physical machine to place a wager on sports. Those looking to place a wager on a gambling app in the state of Montana may be a little disappointed, as bettors will need to be located within a licensed facility to place a bet. Any location featuring a betting machine is considered a licensed facility. Sure, that’s convenient when there is a long line at the physical machine, but what happens when you want to place a bet on your iPhone in to avoid a spreading virus?
“One of the unique things about Montana is that it’s not destination gaming. It’s meant to be used by Montanans wherever they are. You go to your favorite sports bar, and you can place a bet,” said Jennifer McKee, Montana Lottery communications manager.
The inclusion of machines at these locations is appropriate, and the availability of mobile gaming apps inside of the licensed location is a handy option for those that don’t want to leave the table or bar, but with Coronovirus keeping bettors at home, initial state revenue intake forecasts are likely to come up short.
We’ve got a few questions regarding these machines, and the first one is, what kind of wagers will these machines offer to potential bettors? The answer is pretty much any type of sports bet that you’d find at a normal sportsbook. Wagering on collegiate and professional sports is allowed, and typical bet types such spreads, straight, totals, and props will be available to those interested in getting in on the betting fun. The Independent Record is reporting that the maximum wager that can be placed on new gaming machines is $1,000.
The second question is, where can Montana bettors expect to gain access to these fancy new wagering machines? One hundred eighty locations have been approved for betting machines so far, and there is no doubt that Montana citizens will be seeing one of them in the very near future. Establishments included on the list of locations are gas stations, sports bars, and restaurants. That’s right: You can belly-up at your favorite sports bar, order some wings, and place some action on the game while watching it on a dozen big screens with other sports fanatics.
The Montana Lottery intends to have the machines up and running, and staff trained in time for a debut this Sunday. With Coronavirus on the horizon, and with the lack of a legit mobile gaming app allowing for wagering on the go, bettors will likely be tempted to spend their gambling money offshore.