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Montana Charitable Gaming

Montana allows charitable and nonprofit organizations to offer the same games allowed for commercial operators, but are usually not charged taxes or license fees. Casino nights may include live bingo, live keno, raffles and authorized live card games such as poker, and may hold small-stakes and high-stakes card game tournaments.

Gaming for charitable purposes first began in 1972, when voters approved a Constitutional Convention referendum giving the legislature authority over gambling decisions. The following year, in 1973, the legislature passed the Card Game, Bingo, Raffles and Sports Pool Act, which legalized bingo, raffles, sports pools and certain card games. The Montana Department of Justice Gambling Control Division does not report revenue for charitable gaming.

In 2007, legislators passed HB190, a bill that authorized a licensed operator to conduct up to 12 live card game tournaments in one year. Each tournament could only be conducted for at most five consecutive days and if more than one tournament was held in a year, there needed to be at least seven days between the end of one tournament and the beginning of the next.

In 2009, the legislature passed SB86, making it no longer necessary for individuals or organizations to obtain a raffle permit to hold a raffle. Those conducting raffles were still required to maintain records, as specified by the administrative rules. Other modifications included were: variations in bingo cards were allowed, raffle prize limitations were changed, and the regulation of raffles was moved to the state Department of Justice. Prior to SB86, anyone intending to hold a raffle was required to obtain a permit from the county where the raffle was to be held.

In 2013, Gov. Steve Bullock signed HB141, introduced on behalf of the GAC, into law. The bill raised pot limits for live poker games from $300 to $800. It also added an annual large-stakes live card game tournament permit, which allowed the operator to conduct up to 16 large-stakes tournaments a year on the operator's premises, and allowed small-stakes live poker tournaments to be played daily.
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