There are only nine states in the USA which have passed laws to outlaw DFS explicitly. Unfortunately, Montana is one of these nine, so it is illegal to play daily fantasy sports in this state.
In December 2016, a bill was introduced to the Senate to try and loosen the laws around fantasy sports. The bill only lasted a few months before dying off, but even if it had succeeded, DFS would not have been affected. Senate Bill 25 was designed to allow certain fantasy sports to be played if they met the following three requirements: they last for the entire season, the buy in is no more than $35, the games are played for minimal, non-monetary prizes. Clearly, DFS does not meet the requirements.
- We make sure that we are up to date with all industry-related news and developments by following trusted sources like the Great Falls Tribune and the Billings Gazette.
- We can give you advice on a lot more than just sports betting. We have teams dedicated to all sorts of gambling and casino games. Take a look at our dedicated slots page or our online roulette guide.
- We stay on top of any changes to local laws by following authorities such as Gambling Control Division and the Montana Department of Justice.
What is Daily Fantasy?
Even if you aren’t into sports, you are likely to be aware of fantasy sports. Someone in your office, your family, or friendship group probably talks all about their fantasy league when big games are coming up, debating the worth of one player versus another. Daily fantasy sports are very similar but, as the name suggests, all of the action takes place in a much shorter timeframe. Rather than playing through a whole season, results are announced the same day, so you can choose your team and place your bets in the morning and know the outcome by the evening. This fast-paced version appeals to a lot of people.
Whichever sport you are interested in, the basic gameplay is pretty similar. You must draft a team of players while sticking within a set budget. Your team is totally independent, so it is possible that you will choose the exact same team as someone else. You bet with real money, so you can win real money but that also means you are losing real money too.
Online Daily Fantasy Sports in Montana- Overview
Despite its ban on daily fantasy sports, in other aspects Montana has some quite liberal gambling laws. In May 2019, Montana made sports betting legal, which is extremely unusual in the USA and makes Montana only the ninth state with a US sports betting operation. The state lottery is now also allowed to run the state’s sportsbook. Governor Steve Bullock outlined the reasons for this:
“I have spent a great deal of time considering the pros and cons of both systems. Ultimately, however, the Lottery model makes more sense for Montana. Under the Lottery model in HB 725, the state will have the ability to control, monitor, and protect sports wagering products and players through security and integrity protocols, policies around responsible gaming, and policies to ensure that sports wagering is competitive, transparent, and reliable. Like the private model, the Lottery model protects the taxpayer from risk. But the Lottery model builds on existing infrastructure and is projected to return significantly more revenue to taxpayers.”
It is surprising that while the state is so liberal in its approach to sports betting, it is still resisting any progress with Montana daily fantasy sports. Maybe this easing up on gambling laws will spread to DFS as well. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the sports that will be of interest to the residents of Montana if/when DFS does become legal.
Online Daily Fantasy NFL – Ever Popular
The NFL is the most popular fantasy league in nearly every state. This is unsurprising since the NFL is the largest live spectator sporting league in the world (excluding car racing) in terms of average attendance. There is an average of 68,400 live spectators per game! To play fantasy NFL, you must draft nine players into your team while staying within the salary cap. The players must come from at least two different NFL games.
Online Daily Fantasy MLB – Small Yet Mighty
There are actually no major league sports franchises in Montana, possible due to the relatively small and dispersed population in the state. However, baseball can be said to be the sport minor-league sport with the longest heritage there. Montana actually has four minor league teams, who are all members of the Pioneer Baseball League. Fantasy MLB requires you to draft ten players. This lineup must include players scheduled to play in at least two different MLB games, but no more than five hitters from any one team.
Online Daily Fantasy NBA – Just Jackson
It has to be said, Montana has not done a huge amount for the sport of basketball. The state’s only real claim to fame there comes in the form of former basketball player and coach, Phil Jackson. Born in Deer Lodge, Montana, Jackson was voted one of the Top 10 Coaches in National Basketball Association History. Fantasy NBA has a salary cap of $50,000. You must stay within this budget when choosing your eight-player lineup. Additionally, the players on your team must come from at least two different NBA games. You can change your lineup at any time, right up until the scheduled start time of the game.
Online Daily Fantasy Golf – Ladies First
The list of notable athletes from this state is not as impressive as from many others. However, if you move away from the four main American sports, you might have a little more luck. Alice Ritzman and Leslie Spalding are both from Montana, and both played on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour. Spalding was also the head coach of women’s golf at Montana State University from 2007 to 2011. Your fantasy golf lineup must consist of six players. Each player has an assigned salary so make sure to keep these in mind as you must stay with the $50,000 salary cap. Contest results are determined by the total points accumulated by each individual line up entry.
College Football – Montana Grizzlies
The Montana Grizzlies (and Lady Griz if you’re talking about the women’s basketball team) are the athletic teams from the University of Montana. While numerous teams compete in the NCAA Division I, the football team is of particular note. The team won the national championships in 1995 and 2001, as well as qualifying for a record seventeen consecutive playoffs (1993-2009). The Grizzlies rank among the all-time playoff appearance leaders.
The Grizzlies have an annual rivalry game against Montana State University called the Brawl of the Wild.
Timeline of Daily Fantasy Sports Legislation
As with many states, Montana has had a bit of a turbulent relationship with gambling. Numerous laws have been made, then overturned, then reinstated regarding a variety of gambling practices. We have made a table below showing some of the more important moments in Montana gambling history.
If you would like to know more about gambling in the state, you can also visit our Montana gambling page.
|1889||The new constitution in Montana means that all forms of gambling are against the law.|
|1933||The 1889 prohibition on gambling is overturned and some venues begin to reopen.|
|1950||A proposal to legalize gambling fails. Slot machines are made illegal by the Montana Supreme Court, despite being ruled legal just five years earlier.|
|1984-5||In 1984, video poker machines are outlawed using the same legislation that outlawed slot machines. Just one year later, the Video Poker Machine Act overturns this judgement and five machines and unlimited keno games are allowed per liquor license.|
|1986||Voters approve the Montana lottery and tickets go on sale the following year. Additionally, nearly 3,000 video poker licenses are issued.|
|1994||The state signs casino contracts with four tribes including Cheyenne, Crow, Fort Peck, and Rocky Boy.|
|2019||Montana unexpectedly passes a sports betting legalization bill. It is limited and only permits wagering within licensed land-based facilities.|
Legal Daily Fantasy Betting Age in Montana
It may come as a surprise, but the legal gambling age in Montana is actually only 18 years old. You can even gamble in a casino at this age, which is pretty unusual in the states. Sports betting, poker, horse racing and lotteries are all also allowed at just 18 years old. You actually don’t even need to be 18 if you want to participate in a raffle run by a charity, nonprofit, school, or church as there is no age limit on these activities.
If a Montana resident is found guilty of “conducting gambling” without the express permission of the state, they may face up to a year in prison, or a $1,000 fine. Forging papers to pretend to be licensed unlawfully is a felony and could result in a $50,000 fine or up to five years in prison.
DFS Betting AgeIt is currently still illegal to play daily fantasy sports in Montana.
Alcohol AgeYou must be at least 21 years old to drink in the state of Montana.
Weed AgeThe use of marijuana for recreational purposes is illegal in Montana.
Is Daily Fantasy Betting Legal Outside of the State?
Daily fantasy sports might be illegal in Montana but, as we have stated, this is quite unusual. Only nine states have actually outlawed DFS and more and more states are bringing in legislation to make it legal. However, when we take a look at the states surrounding Montana, we can see that the area is not particularly friendly to DFS. North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming have all avoided making a ruling either way on DFS, leaving it as a gray area where residents can play online without fear of prosecution but also not passing any legislation in favor of it. To the west and southwest of Montana lies Idaho. This state has joined Montana in passing legislation to outlaw DFS entirely.
Taxes on Daily Fantasy Winnings: Legal Overview
All states require people to pay federal taxes on gambling winnings, and many states also have state taxes on top of this. In Montana, if you win more then $5,000, 25% will be withheld for federal taxes and 6.9% will be withheld for Montana state taxes.
You may think that if you are a casual gambler you do not need to report your winnings but that is not the case. All gambling winnings are fully taxable, and you must report the income on your tax return. It is a good idea to keep a record of all your winnings and losses, including the dates and venues when and where they took place.
If you need help on which forms to use to report your gambling winnings, have a look at the IRS website.
Upcoming Regulation Changes to Be Aware Of
The recent change to sports betting laws in Montana is huge news – only nine out of fifty states have legalized sports betting. We are hoping that this shows a turn in the tide for Montana and that more loosening around gambling laws is on its way. However, considering that the fantasy sports bill disappeared without a trace just a couple of years ago, it is probably more realistic to assume that this state is still some way off from legalizing Montana daily fantasy sports.