Click here for a printable (PDF) version of FAQs.
A Calcutta is an auction pool conducted by an organization authorized by the department. Competitors in an event are “sold” to the highest bidder and the winner(s) of the pool of money is determined by the results of the event. A Calcutta auction is commonly conducted in conjunction with golf tournaments, rodeos, March Madness college basketball tournaments, etc. See our Calcutta guide for more information regarding how to properly run a Calcutta Auction.
Calcutta pools are auction pools:
Any organization that has obtained a permit from the department may offer a Calcutta auction. To obtain a Calcutta permit, complete Form 26 and submit it to the division.
Only nonprofit organizations that have obtained a permit may offer a Casino Night. See our Casino Night Guide.
Live card games, live keno and bingo games, and raffles. Card game tournaments may not be conducted as any part of a casino night. See our Casino Night Guide.
First fill out and submit to the department the Casino Night Permit Application (Form 11). You can also apply online through TAP. Along with a complete application, nonprofit organizations must attach a copy of the rules regarding the event including the value of imitation money, entry fee amount, and method of awarding prizes. See our Casino Night Guide.
The only gambling activities that are allowed to be played at that type of event are those that are specifically authorized in Montana including poker, keno, bingo, and raffles. Other skill-based games or amusement games that are not considered gambling may be allowed as well. Activities such as blackjack and roulette are illegal in Montana and are not allowed to be played in a public setting.
If the event is free for the students to attend, then no permit is required. If there is an entrance fee or cost to participate, the event must be sponsored by a nonprofit organization and a Casino Night permit must be applied for through the Division (see Casino Night Guidelines). Attendees must be 18 to participate in a Casino Night. The only gambling activities that are allowed to be played at these types of functions (whether there is a cost or not) are those that are specifically authorized in Montana including poker, keno, bingo, and raffles. Other skill-based games or amusement games that are not considered gambling may be allowed as well. Activities such as blackjack and roulette are illegal in Montana and are not allowed to be played in a public setting.
Yes, players must pay before they participate in any gambling activity. This includes activities such as shake-a-day, sports pools, poker games, etc. Deferred payments are not allowed and are considered credit gambling.
No. It is illegal for a person to use a credit card to gamble in the state of Montana.
No, any use of credit cards for gambling is prohibited.
The legislature passed HB368 which authorized the play of the dice game “Cee-lo.” Cee-lo is also known as “see-low”, “four-five-six”, “three dice game”, and “pair and point”. All other dice games (other than shake-a-day and shaking for music or drinks) are still illegal.
According to HB368, players roll three six-sided dice and the first player to roll a winning combination wins. The dice combination of 4-5-6 is treated as a winning combination. Games of cee-lo may include dice rolls that establish a point and may include games in which two or more players will roll and compare their points to determine a winner. Players must agree on all rules before playing cee-lo.
The only dice games that have been authorized are cee-lo, shake-a-day, and shaking for music or drinks. Cee-lo uses only three dice and is also known as “see-low”, “four-five-six”, “three dice game”, and “pair and point”. All other dice games such as “6-5-4”; “ship, captain, crew”; etc. are still illegal.
Licensed locations are not required to let customers play cee-lo. It is the decision of the business whether to allow it to be played at their location or not.
Customers participating in an illegal dice game (or any gambling activity not specifically authorized) are in violation of 23-5-156, MCA and may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the size of the game. If the customer solicits others to participate in an illegal dice game, they may be violation of 23-5-154, MCA as well which is also a misdemeanor.
To learn about shake-a-days, see our Shake-a-day Guide.
Yes, federal requirements restrict the sharing of the results of fingerprint background checks between entities.
Visit your local law enforcement agency (Police Department or Sheriff’s Office) to have your fingerprints taken. Some private security firms provide fingerprinting services as well.
Yes, it is required by state law that a licensed establishment prominently display their license where it is easily visible to the public.
Log into your TAP (TransAction Portal) account and select your Gambling Operator Account. Your current license will be found under the “Letters” tab.
The annual permit fee is $250 for the first table, and $500 for each additional table. Fees are charged in lieu of taxes.
To properly run a live card game tournament one must:
(i) Have at least one permitted live card table and a live card game tournament permit ($120 annual fee for large-stakes tournaments and $500 annual fee for small-stakes tournaments).
(ii) Provide a copy of the tournament rules to all participants and post where it can be easily seen by the public;
(iii) Use a licensed card dealer to conduct the tournament with someone present always overseeing the conduct of games and settling disputes;
(iv) Determine all winners after the tournament;
(v) Not allow playing between the hours of 2:00 AM and 8:00 AM unless the tournament played is in a jurisdiction where the local government has adopted an ordinance permitting play between the hours of 2:00 AM and 8:00 AM.
8:00 AM – 2:00 AM; No play is allowed between the hours of 2:00 AM and 8:00 AM. However, in the jurisdiction of a local government where a game is played, the local government may adopt an ordinance which allows play during that time.
Yes. A person may not deal in a live card game of panguingue or poker without being licensed annually by the department. The fee for the first year in which a license is effective is $75, and the annual renewal fee is $25.
Existing dealers can renew a license online.
Review this webpage for information regarding card dealer licensing.
Yes. House players may only be used for starting a card game or maintaining enough players in a card game. The operator, card room contractor, or dealer shall identify house players upon request.
On our website (dojmt.gov/gaming) under “Resources”, and “Statistics and Reports,” select “Licensed Gambling Businesses.” A report of all licensed card dealers can be found on this page and is updated weekly.
Yes. A licensed operator may be granted a $250 annual permit (expires June 30) for live keno and bingo activities. Fill out and submit Form 25.
The requirements vary based on the type of organization wishing to offer Bingo. Please see our Bingo guide for more information.
Non-institutional loan or financing is when someone, other than a regulated lender, loans money or supplies financing to an applicant for a license or to a gambling licensee. (ex. Non-bank loan)
Many situations may fall under this category: relative or related entity loaning money to a licensee or license applicant; property owner allowing missed rent payments; a non-licensee making payments on a licensee’s loan; non-licensee financing repairs or renovations; gift of money to a licensee.
Potential lenders can be landlords, family members, related entities, friends, or anyone helping-out financially.
Yes, prior approval is required in the case of a non-institutional loan. To initiate the process complete Form 13.
No, prior approval is not required in the case of an institutional (bank) loan, however, a review of draft documents may be requested. Notification to the division of new institutional financing is required with annual license renewal paperwork.
Yes. This could be considered non-institutional financing or “gifting.” You must gain prior approval for this type of financing. Before any funds are exchanged, fill out and submit to the department the Non-Institutional loan form (NIL) or the Gifting Statement form.
You must report this transaction to the department within 90 days of the payment being made. Contact the Gambling Control Division at (406) 444-1971 or email [email protected].
Yes. All co-borrowers and guarantors will be required to undergo a background check during the loan review. In no case can a co-borrower or guarantor make a payment on a licensee’s loan before they have been vetted for suitability (background check).
A location manager is a person employed or designated by the licensee to provide general oversight and ensure compliance with gambling laws and regulations under the authority and general guidance of the owner. A location manager may be a licensed owner, general manager, or onsite manager. Any change in location managers (except owners of the license) must be reported to the department within 30 days of the change.
A gambling operator shall designate at least one location manager. A location manager may be a licensed owner, but if the licensed owner does not personally provide onsite management of the premises, they must designate a location manager to perform such services.
No. An ownership interest may not be transferred among existing owners without submitting an amended gambling license application to the department and obtaining approval prior to the transfer. The exception is when transfers of a security interest or transfers results in under 5% ownership interest in a publicly traded corporation.
There are many resources available for those with a gambling problem as well as friends and family affected by problem gambling. Contact the Montana Council on Problem Gambling at (888) 900-9979 or one of the Gambler’s Anonymous Montana hotlines. Visit the Problem Gambling Page on our website for more information.
Yes. A nonprofit organization that has completed a one-time registration form (Form 46) supplied by the department may conduct raffles online. See the Raffle Guide document for more information on how to properly conduct raffles.
No. Raffles ran by individuals or businesses (for-profit raffles) are not permitted to sell tickets online.
A raffle sponsor must make all raffle terms available to the public prior to the sale of any raffle tickets. In all cases a raffle sponsor must establish and make available the date of the raffle drawing. Other raffle terms may include:
See Raffle Guide for more information.
No. Payment with a credit card is prohibited. Acceptable payment methods include cash, check, e-check or debit card.
The gambling regulations do not restrict the type of prizes that may be offered in a raffle. There are other restrictions on raffle prizes such as the value and ownership of the prize. See our Raffle Guide for more information.
Bridge, cribbage, hearts, pinochle, pitch, rummy, solo, and whist played in a public setting solely for prizes of minimal value are considered “social card games.” Social card games are not considered gambling and therefore are not subject to regulation. Poker and panguingue are not social cards games.
In social card games, a prize of minimal value may not exceed $10 per individual game. In tournaments, the prize limit is calculated by multiplying the number of participants by $10. For example, if there are 25 participants in a tournament, the prize may not exceed $250 (23.16.1203, ARM).
To access a PDF version of the following questions and answers on sports wagering by the Montana Lottery click here.
“Sports wagering” means accepting wagers on sporting events or portions of sporting events, or
on the individual performance statistics of athletes in a sporting event or combination of sporting events, by any system or method of wagering, including but not limited to in-person, or over the internet through websites and on mobile devices. The term includes but is not limited to single-game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under, money line, pools, exchange wagering, in-game wagering, in-play bets, and proposition bets.
The term does not include fantasy sports, sports pool/tab boards, or Calcutta auctions.
In May of 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional. PASPA was a federal law that barred single-bet sports betting outside of Nevada. With PASPA being struck down, it enables states to allow sports betting.
The 2019 Montana Legislature passed a law allowing sports wagering through the Montana Lottery. The bill was signed into law on May 3. The Montana Lottery is now working toward launching sports wagering.
Betting on professional and collegiate sports though the Lottery’s sports betting platform will be legal in licensed locations in the state of Montana.
It is not legal to place a bet on any sport outside of the Lottery’s offering in the state of Montana. It will not be legal for any other entity to offer sports wagers for betting, or operate a sportsbook, outside of the sportsbook operated and regulated by the Lottery.
You can find sports wagering information on the Montana Lottery’s website (https://www.montanalottery.com/en/view/sports-wagering), which will be updated with the latest information as they move through the process. Or, you can call the Lottery at 406-444-5825.
Questions or information related to illegal sports wagering can be directed to the Gambling Control Division by calling 406-444-1971 or by submitting a report on the Anonymous Tip Reporting page (https://dojmt.gov/gaming/anonymous-tip-reporting/).
After administrative rules are through the public hearing process, locations that meet all the licensing requirements defined in the Lottery’s law and rules can sell sports wagers through the Lottery’s sports betting platform.
The Montana Lottery is working toward launching the sports wagering program. While there are many variables, they are hopeful sports wagering will be available by the end of 2019.
As of October 1, 2019, sports pools and sports tab games may be conducted only by a licensed gambling operator.
Only licensed gambling operators can offer a sports pool or sports tab game, but the operator may conduct a sports pool or sports tab game to support a named nonprofit organization and donate up to 50% of the value to the nonprofit organization.
You may charge up to $100 per chance when running a sports pool, but the payout is limited to $2,500.
You can run unlimited boards per game within a sports pool if they are independent from each other.
If you don’t sell all the spaces on the board before the start of the game, the sponsor selling spaces is required to buy any unsold space. The board can never be altered after it is started (cancelling or changing the board to a later sports event to allow more time to sell spaces is prohibited).
Money collected for a sports pool should be stored in a safe location which is also available for inspection by a Gambling Investigator or local law enforcement officer. Money from separate boards must be kept separate (in separate envelopes or other method for segregating the money) and the envelopes should be labeled to correspond with the board it represents. Investigators or local law enforcement officials randomly select fully or partially sold boards and count the money specific to that board. No charitable proceeds can be removed from the proceeds until after the outcome of the sports event.
Yes, you can lock the money in the safe until it’s paid out if it is made immediately available for inspection by Gambling Investigator or local law enforcement officer and if each envelope corresponds to an associated board.
No you cannot accept checks or credit cards for the sale of sports pool chances. Only cash may be accepted for the sale of sports pool chances.
Once all spaces are sold you may assign numbers to the horizontal and vertical rows but it must also be before the start of the sports event, and numbers are then to be randomly assigned to the horizontal rows and vertical columns. Any unsold spaces must be purchased by the bar (or sponsor) and that person or entity must mark those spaces as sold.
A sports pool card/board must be held for at least 90 days from the date of the sports event and be made available for inspection upon request. The names of the sports pool winner(s) must be prominently displayed on each board. Sports tab games are required to be maintained for at least one year.
Prizes must be awarded after the sports event (or series of sports events) is over and as soon as the winner appears to claim their prize.
Yes, you can award merchandise as the prize(s) to the winner(s) of the sports pool. However, a prize in the form of merchandise must be identified before the sale of any chances; the purchase price of the merchandise must equal the value of winning square, or the difference in value must be paid in cash to the winner. Proof of the purchase price (receipts) of merchandise must be retained for at least 90 days from the date of the sports event.
Team names should be placed on the axes prior to the start of the game. The sporting event itself must be identified on the board prior to the sale of any chances. You may choose which team goes on the horizontal axis or the vertical axis of the board.
Free sports pool boards from beer distributors are not necessarily in compliance: it is the responsibility of the bar or person offering the sports pool to ensure the boards being used are legal. Distributors are not required to verify that their boards are legal in MT prior to handing them out. When in doubt, contact the Gambling Control Division.
Temporary Gambling Authority is permission to operate a licensed gambling business while final approval of the gambling operator application is pending with the department.
The criteria for approval of TGA includes:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Revenue (DOR) coordinate all temporary operating authority approvals. For further questions refer to the Form 5 Guide or call (406) 444-1971.
Temporary operating authority may be issued for no more than 45 days. The division may provide an extension of the temporary operating authority, but only when the reason for the delay is beyond the applicant’s control. Any extension request must be made in writing and should be received by the division one week prior to the expiration date to avoid an interruption to the business. (Reference 23.16.509, ARM)
TransAction Portal (TAP) is an online portal providing access to government services. The Video Gambling Machine (VGM) Services allow easy access for Gambling and Route Operators to permit gambling machines and allow for transmission of video gambling machine information. This includes the ability to enter electronic meter readings, mechanical meter readings, service reports, letters of withdrawal, online permitting, and the ability to receive tax estimates for each quarter of operation.
First, you must be a licensed Gambling or Route Operator. Then, you must sign up for an online account. You will be requested to provide your gambling operator or manufacturer/distributor/route operator account number.
Once access approval is granted, you will receive an email with your authorization code which must be entered the first time you log in and gain access to the system. Some of the VGM services such as viewing tax estimates will be located under the VGM Account (instead of GOA). See the TAP User Guide for more information.
If you have problems during your session on TAP, click the Menu button and make note of your support ID. Contact the Gambling Control Division at (406) 444-1971 or email [email protected] and provide the support ID for specialized assistance. Resources are also available on our website.
No. Access is only for machines owned by you or your Route Operator, if applicable. Transmission of data to Gambling Control is secured through an encryption process that prohibits others from reading it.
Under the Correspondence tab on the main page, you can “View all requests”. If the Meter Reading request is listed as Pending, this means that the request is in the system and will be processed that evening.
Under the Correspondence tab on the main page, you can “View all requests.” If you see the “VGM Return Pmt” request as Pending, this means that the request is in the system and will be processed that evening.
Yes, you can save your bank account information for future use during your first payment entry.
8:00 AM – 2:00 AM; No play is allowed between the hours of 2:00 AM and 8:00 AM unless the local government where the machine is being played has adopted an ordinance which allows play during that time. Check with the local government (city if within city limits and county if outside of city limits) to determine if an ordinance has been adopted to extend video gambling machine play.
Yes. There are no legal restrictions regarding owners or employees playing video gambling machines. Individual locations may have policies regarding this topic.
Yes, all video gambling machines are equipped with a random number generator. See the brochure “Inside Video Gambling Machines” for more information. The Gambling Control Division has engineers that test all machines to ensure compliance with Montana statutes and rules before they can be placed in a licensed bar or casino.
Typically issues with a video gambling machine are taken care of by the machine owner (casino owner or route operator). If there is a player dispute or other issue that the machine owner is unable to resolve, contact the Gambling Control Division at (406) 444-1971.
Yes. You can pay for your permits online via an eCheck or credit card. When permitting video gambling machines on TAP try to avoid unnecessary dual payments: if you receive your permit for the new machines, the division has received your payment. Due to timing issues,the payment is not immediately reflectedon your TAP account. Your account will continue to reflect money due. Please do not pay again. A confirmation page will appear after you have paid.
You may double check to see if the payment was made by selecting the “Submissions Tab” on the home page after log in.
Select the “VGM Prm Payment for $____” link to provide more detail about when payment was made.
If you have permitted a machine and paid for it, you will receive a new permit. For any questions regarding your payments, please contact the division before you try to pay again at (406) 444-1971.
Log into TransAction Portal (TAP) and from the home page, select your VGM Tax account. Under “Account Options,” select “VGM Tax Estimate” for your current quarter tax estimate.
Yes, it is required that you pay your taxes online when you receive a tax estimate. You can pay online through TAP via an e-Check or credit card.
First, ensure you have selected the “VGM Tax Estimate” link in the account options. Second, contact the division at (406) 444-1971 if there is still a discrepancy.
Yes. If the day video gambling machine taxes are due falls on a weekend or national holiday, they may be paid on the next business day without being considered late.
No, pull-tabs are not a legal gambling activity in Montana. There is an exception provided for pull-tabs used only as a promotional game of chance (no cost to participate). Please note, pull-tabs are not the same as sports pool tabs, which are legal in Montana.
A searchable database of licensed gambling operators is available by visiting TransAction Portal and clicking on “Search for a Gambling Licensee” under “Gambling Control Division” header.
Another list exists in pdf form on our website (dojmt.gov/gaming) under “Resources,” select “Statistics and Reports” and see “Licensed Gambling Businesses” tab. A report of all licensed gambling operators can be found on this page and is updated monthly.
A public “pick-the-winners” game in which participants pay to play is illegal. “Pick-the-winners” may only be offered as a promotional game of chance in which there is no cost to participate.
A gift enterprise is a gambling activity in which participants must purchase goods or services to become eligible for participation in a gambling activity (see 23-5-112(16), MCA). While there are limited exceptions for financial institutions and non-profit organizations, gift enterprises are illegal. A common example of a gift enterprise is when the purchase of an item is required to allow entry into a raffle.