Montana sportsbooks posted $3.98 million in handle last month, driven by basketball (87% of total bets were placed on this sport). Nearly $3 million were bet on the men’s and women’s NCAA March Madness tournaments for the second year in a row.
According to Daily Montanan, the two tournaments combined saw $2.89 million worth of bets this year, with $2.75 million corresponding to the men’s tournament and $136,692 bet on the women’s. The state paid out more money to bettors -$2.3 million versus $1.9 million last year-, even though less was bet this year, which the Montana Lottery attributes to the economy.
“All the markets offered were similar to last year for both men’s and women’s basketball. But just like what we are seeing with other products, the economy can affect our products and we believe that is the case with women’s basketball wagers being down 4.9% in 2022,” a lottery spokesperson told the cited source via email.
The Montana sports betting market was launched in March 2020. Sports bettors in the state wagered a total of $46 million last year, a sharp increase compared to 2020. The market picked up in 2021, following a tumultuous start amid Covid-related restrictions experienced in its first year of activity.
As sporting events returned and bars throughout Montana reopened during 2021, the state was able to see how its own betting product, Sports Bet Montana, fared. The total amount of bets increased by $28 million compared to 2020, but the state was criticized for still offering what many describe as substandard odds to its bettors.
Montanans wagered an approximate $2 million more every month last year and, through December 27, wagered a total of $46 million, while $40 million was paid out by the state. In comparison, $18 million were wagered and $16 million paid out in 2020, according to data provided by the Montana Lottery.
This year, nearly $700,000 was bet in Montana on the Super Bowl matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams in February, a 41% increase from last year, which at the marking the highest amount bet on a single game since the launch of sports betting in the state.
According to data from the Montana Lottery, 25,383 people placed bets totaling $695,837 on the game through Sports Bet Montana. The average bet was $23.95, and bettors in the state were not able to outsmart the book, with the state only paying out $427,867.