Could Blackjack Be Coming To Montana?

A bill introduced in the Montana Legislature is calling for the legalization of blackjack. Rep. Wylie Galt (R-Martinsdale) recently submitted and is sponsoring House Bill 578 to legalize blackjack in casinos and taverns throughout the state. The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Lavin (R-Kalispell) and House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R-Culbertson).

The bill would legalize both card and video versions of blackjack. This bill would allow up to three live blackjack games and allow video blackjack games in a bar or casino. Officials claim that the game is popular and that some residents have been visiting North Dakota to play blackjack. The legalization of the game should keep some of those dollars in the state.

Montana has over 1,400 licensed gambling operators including 165 casinos. The state also offers video poker, video keno, and video bingo in bars and taverns. Casinos offer the same gaming machines, slot machines, poker, and bingo. Montana also has sports pool wagering.

The goal of this bill is to generate more tax revenue for the state. According to KXLF the bill will allocate “a $500 tax on each blackjack table to the state’s Department of Justice and a state special revenue account — $100 going to the DOJ, and $400 to the account.”

After the first year, the bill divvies up money in that special revenue account, giving 42 percent to Health and Human Services, 28 percent to the Office of Public Instruction, 14 percent to the sheriff’s retirement system and 14 percent to the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. This money is to be used on programs such as vocational, suicide prevention and gambling addiction.”

The first hearing on this bill will be Wednesday, March 22. Approval for blackjack in Montana isn’t a slam dunk. There are detractors and there was no support at the House Taxation Committee’s first hearing of testimony on the bill.

Details on blackjack rules would happen if the state approves the bill. There isn’t a timetable on how long it could be before Montana starts dealing blackjack.