Online sports betting is illegal in more than twenty states, although most of them only have in-person, live betting. This article briefly covers the background and the regulations in both Nebraska and Montana. If you plan on placing bets for wagering on sports in either of these states, you need to be aware of their particular laws.
The first difference between online sports betting and in-person betting is the lack of licensing requirements. Like most industries, the industry has evolved and competition has grown so intense that laws have had to be developed. As of 2021, in the state of Nebraska, there was no regulation of sports betting at retail outlets, such as casinos, pubs, or sports books. However, the legislature created in the Retailers’ Franchise Act of 2021 an “estimated retail price” provision that was intended to regulate activity in the online sports betting industry. For example, if someone were to place a bet and end up winning by ten dollars but later found out it was only ten dollars because the bookie increased the odds, the law would require the sports book to refund the winnings. Similarly, in the state of Montana, all online sports betting is strictly prohibited.
Second, the states do not yet have an outright ban on online sports betting. While many sports books have implemented policies prohibiting gambling, the fact is that gambling is illegal in most states and municipalities. The closest thing to an outright ban is the prohibition of accepting bets from casino customers or persons in a similar position to a licensed casino employee. However, there are no laws preventing the practice from being implemented from the perspective of a consumer. This leaves the door open for third-party companies who may offer assistance in placing bets on sports events through the internet. However, if the person doing the placing the bet is using an entity that has become accredited by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, then the law considers the third-party company to be an authorized casino where the athlete or player is contracted to play.
There are some possibilities where the legislature could pass bills that regulate the collection of money by third parties to facilitate gaming, though it’s unlikely the legislature will do this anytime soon. There are some members of the legislature who have introduced bills that would eliminate the need for an athlete’s agent or a personal representative to represent him or her in a gaming event. This would obviously eliminate the need for an accredited gaming house to represent an athlete since they would not be working for the house. Additionally, there is always the possibility of introducing legislation that would institute a tax on wagering across state lines, similar to the tax that applies to state gaming. Such a measure could benefit casinos especially since gaming taxes are already in place in several municipalities.
Two things stand in the way of legalized online betting in Montana and in the rest of the country. First, the Montana Supreme Court has declined to review a case regarding the constitutionality of a law requiring a statewide ban on online betting. The state government is also reviewing thericting plan for the upcoming congressional elections. There is also the likelihood that the Montana Supreme Court will refuse to hear arguments pertaining to the constitutionality of a House bill that would legalize sports betting across state lines. If either of these things occurs, the courts may effectively gut the legislation giving the legislature no option but to reintroduce the legislation again with a different constitution.
The second thing that may happen is that the legislature will pass a constitutional amendment allowing individuals to gamble online if they so choose. However, it is very difficult to envision why a legislature would want to enact such a complex law in the first place given its obvious flaws. There are too many logistical problems with legalized legal wagering and it just makes more sense to regulate it through the traditional channels of gambling. However, this could easily lead to future attempts to amend the constitution in the future in an attempt to solve the inherent problems associated with legalized gambling in Montana.
The most likely scenario is that the legislature will simply move forward with the status quo and leave the future of online betting up to the state’s attorney generals and national gambling organizations. They will continue to lobby aggressively against legislative attempts to legalize sports betting across state lines. It appears that they are gearing up for a legal battle of the century.
The next deadline for legislation is the one year mark. If the current efforts to legalize sports betting in Montana fall by January 1st, the legislature will have to revisit the issue and bring forward new legislation or prepare to reintroduce legislation with no clear plan on what it will look like. The chances of having a consensus in the legislature to legalize sports betting in Montana in the next year are quite low. That makes the timeframe for any resolution virtually uncertain at this point in time. A lack of bickered, partisan politics and a desire to avoid an immediate solution probably mean that the timeline for the next step in this dispute will remain indefinite at best.