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Montana Lotteries

Montana voters approved the Montana Lottery through a referendum in November 1986. The Lottery was established under the provisions of Section 23 of the Montana Code Annotated (MCA). In June 1987, the Lottery sold its first $1 tickets for the Pot of Gold scratch game. Lottery games offered include instant scratch tickets and in-state and multi-state draw games, such as Powerball, Mega Millions, Wild Card, Montana Cash, Hot Lotto, Montana Millionaire and 10 Spot. Fantasy Sports or Montana Sports Action games are also offered through an interagency agreement between the Lottery and the Board of Horse Racing. Lottery proceeds were initially distributed as equalization aid, helping to maintain or reduce property taxes required for public instruction retirement funds. This distribution, which is legislatively governed, changed many times over the Lottery's history.

The Montana Lottery is overseen by a five-member commission appointed by the governor for a staggered, four-year term. The members, by law, must include at least one member with five years' experience in law enforcement, an attorney and a certified public accountant. The Commission has oversight of the Lottery's operations, sets policy, and influences the form and style of Lottery games. A director is also appointed by the governor to administer the daily operations of the Lottery. The Montana Lottery is connected to the Montana Department of Administration for administrative purposes only.

With the passage of SB83 by the 1995 Legislature, the Lottery is mandated to transfer its net revenue to the Montana State General Fund each calendar-year quarter. This change was signed into law by Gov. Racicot in April 1995. Net revenue is defined by the MCA as gross revenue minus prizes, commissions and operating expenses, plus any interest earned on the monies.

By law, the Lottery provides retailers a commission on scratch and lotto tickets sold. The Commission set the amount at 5% on scratch tickets and the face value of lotto tickets sold. The MCA established a 3.99% commission on Fantasy Sports or Montana Sports Action tickets sold. Retailers may earn bonus commissions for tickets sold based on incremental sales of scratch tickets. Retailers may also earn an additional 5% commission for increasing their scratch sales and a bonus 0.5% commission for each 2% increase in sales up to a maximum of 10% of their total commission. The license costs to be able to sell Lottery products are $50 each year for traditional lottery games and $75 each year for the Fantasy or Action Sports games.

The MCA requires that at least 45% of tickets sales must be returned to the players as prize money. Prizes for lotto games and scratch games must be claimed within six months after the draw date and ending date, respectively. After this period, they are considered unclaimed prizes and all amounts are transferred to the state general fund.

In August 2008, the Montana Lottery and the Montana Board of Horse Racing introduced Montana Sport Action, a fantasy football game where players can create a "team" from a predetermined list of professional football players. These games can only be sold in bars and casinos having a gaming license issued by the Montana Department of Justice.
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