Montana hoped to extract its share from the sports betting industry in the form of tax revenues after legalizing the industry in May 2019. Unfortunately, the state’s high hopes met with despair in 2020 after the pandemic halted all economic activity. Montana’s sports betting industry inevitably became one of the victims of COVID-19.
However, with the highly-awaited NFL season kicking off last month, Montana’s sports betting industry hopes to revive the action and fun needed to attract and encourage residents to place wagers.
How 2020 Has Played Out So Far
It was disastrous timing for sports betting to launch in Montana, whose betting terminals went live from March 9. Unfortunately, by the end of that week, all professional sporting events were canceled due to the pandemic-led crisis. It essentially dashed any possibility of having a great launch.
Once the casinos, restaurants, and bars were closed in the state, the people had no place to bet even if they wished to. For now, online gambling is not allowed in the state except for the places that are in licensed venues, which substantially limits the wagering opportunities for enthusiasts in Montana.
Understandably, the year has fallen short of expectations due to the global pandemic, yet Montana has still witnessed over $5 million placed on sports betting wagers this year. Considering the 2020 NFL season started on September 10, there is enough time to bring in huge numbers before the end of the year.
Reopening Measures Were Slow Initially
Once the state allowed venues to open up again, it was a gradual and slow process. There was still little in the way of sports activity to wager on, and the available events did not draw the attention that big sporting leagues such as the NBA and NFL claim.
In July, sports betting eventually got off the ground again thanks to the return of the MLB. After months of inactivity, its excitement finally led fans and bettors to participate in betting activity.
Since July, things have been improving in Montana, but with the NFL just in its second month, the hopes are high regarding an optimistic remainder of the year for the state.
NFL Kick-Off Weekend Was a Big Hit
Now the NFL opening month is over, numbers are continuously pouring in, with a whopping $189,000 wagered during the inaugural week on the NFL alone.
While commenting on the development, Montana Lottery communication manager Jennifer McKee said, “This is probably the most popular sport in the state, so we knew football was going to be a big deal. You can see it is. We’re so excited that it’s back.”
McKee further added, “We expect sports betting to reach $500,000 a week, and continue to swell from there.”
However, currently, everything is just verbal. So far, there isn’t an official ad campaign nor any significant efforts being put on. So, let’s see how much organic potential is there for Montana concerning this NFL season.