Sports Betting

Why Montana is One of the Most Gambling-Addicted US States

We publish independently audited information that meets our strong editorial guidelines. Be aware we may earn a commission if you purchase anything via links on our pages.
Why Montana is One of the Most Gambling-Addicted US States

Montana is one of the most gambling-addicted U.S. states in 2024, according to a 2024 WalletHub study. The Big Sky Country is third on the list, trailing only Nevada and South Dakota. Louisiana and Pennsylvania rank fourth and fifth, respectively.  

Montana has the fifth-most casinos per capita, tied for most gaming machines per capita

Montana received a total score of 59.45, ranked seventh in gambling-friendliness, and placed fourth in gambling problem and treatment. Approximately 2.5% of the state’s residents have a gambling disorder, one of the highest percentages in the country.

Why does America’s fourth-largest state in total land area with a population of just 1.13 million people rank so high? This may come as a shocker for some, but Montana has the fifth-most casinos per capita and is tied for the most gaming machines per capita with Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, according to WalletHub.

Residents are also allowed to bet on sports and horse races. Electronic gambling machines are available in retail and convenience stores as well.

South Dakota and Montana are the only two gambling-addicted states in the top five without a professional sports team, unlike Nevada, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania.

Additionally, it should be noted that Montana “doesn’t have gambling counselors and doesn’t require businesses to train employees on disordered and problem gambling,” per WalletHub’s study.

According to the 2013 National Survey of Problem Gambling, which was prepared by Problem Gambling Solutions, Inc., an estimated 2.2% of Montana adults (17,226 citizens) were believed to manifest a gambling disorder in 2012. 

Of that 2.2%, the Montana Council on Problem Gambling reported 1,243 gamblers and 142 significant others received outpatient treatment.

That was over 10 years ago. More recent data must be considered. As of May 2024, sports betting is legal in 38 states and Washington D.C. 

The Treasure State saw an average of 1,700 client interactions throughout the year in 2020

In 2020, the Montana Council on Problem Gambling (MCPG) revealed in its report that officials saw, on average, 1,700 client interactions throughout the year, per NBC News Montana. 

It simplifies to roughly 15-20 counselors helping those who are suffering from a gambling disorder. Besides Billings, all other cities have less than 100,000 people. Finding help is an issue for residents living in Missoula, Great Falls, and Bozeman.

“We do have some in the smaller communities, but that would be the goal to reach out and find those different locations, especially in the rural areas,” executive director of Montana Council on Problem Gambling Brad Longcake said.

Funding remains limited for the state. As a result, problem gamblers who need help are less likely to receive any. 

“If we were able to get additional funding, we would hire additional counselors, which we can then put in more communities around Montana. That’s the goal of the council to try and get awareness out so we can touch all those different communities,” Longcake added.

“We’re the only state in the country that is 100% privately funded through industry donations. Most other problem gambling groups have funding from the state. We currently do not have that in Montana today.”

According to the MCPG’s website, there are three available office locations in Billings, two in Bozeman, three in Missoula, and two in Great Falls. Only one brick-and-mortar location exists in each of these six cities: Browning, Butte, Dodson, Havre, Helena, and Superior.  

Simply put, residents in Montana have no sales tax and endless outdoor recreation. However, the winters are brutal, and living there is very isolating. That’s also why Montana is one of the most gambling-addicted states.

Problem gamblers in Montana are urged to call the 24-hour helpline: 888-900-9979.