United States blackjack players living in Montana may soon have a big reason to celebrate. The Montana legislature is preparing to consider a bill that would make it legal for certain businesses to offer both live and electronic blackjack in their places of business. (..) The Montana blackjack bill is expected to pass with a minimum of debate.
The Proposed Montana Blackjack Law
House Bill 578 was sponsored by Rep. Wylie Galt, (R-Martinsdale). The representative was joined in presenting the bill by Rep. Steve Lavin and Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen. It was expected that the bill would be discussed by the legislature for the first time on March 15, 2017.
If approved by the Montana legislature, bars and casinos in the state would be able to provide up to three live blackjack games. A certain number of electronic blackjack machines would also be permitted by the bill. Casino games such as keno and other gambling games like poker have been legal in Montana for sometime along with video poker and certain types of slot machines. The legalization of blackjack in the state, however, is a major step toward the overall approval of land-based casinos. This bill could open the door for casinos which offer craps, baccarat, and roulette in addition to slot machines.
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Galt has made it clear that he hopes this doesn’t happen. “We want this to be a Montana thing where it’s just a small thing in bars,” Galt said. “We don’t want big casinos coming in.” It will be interesting see what the reaction of the big gaming companies will be to the state’s decision.
How Blackjack Will Help Montana
Montana is currently in a budget crisis and is looking for measures that will help to eliminate the state deficit. Lawmakers believe that legalized blackjack may be the answer. They contend that generating revenue from blackjack is a more preferable option than raising taxes.
Gambling measures have helped other states in similar circumstances. Pennsylvania is currently in the process of approving online casinos that would be operated by live casinos in the state. A study commissioned in support of the bill projected that Pennsylvania could reap millions in revenue during the first year of operation. New Jersey was among the first states to legalize online gambling and the revenues there have added considerably to the state’s coffers.
The efforts to legalize blackjack in Montana began in 2011 with a measure introduced by Rep. Tony Belcourt (D-Box Elder). The idea at that time was to use the revenues created to support social service programs in Montana. At that time, lawmakers failed to take action on the bill and tabled it for later consideration. This frequently happens in an election year when legislators seeking election are hesitant to tackle controversial matters.
If the bill is approved, Montana could see revenues almost immediately in the form of licensing fees. It remains to be seen how soon bars and casinos could implement the game into their operations, but if the bill passes it would not be unrealistic to expect live blackjack in Montana before the end of 2017.
Specific state programs that would benefit are the general fund, which would receive all revenues through 2019, and other programs such as those dedicated to gambling addiction programs, early education programs, and tribal scholarship funds.
What Can Montana Blackjack Players Expect?
Many Montana blackjack players have been making trips to North and South Dakota where blackjack is legal in casinos. These players are sure to appreciate not being forced to make long drives in order to play the game.
Blackjack players in Montana can likely expect the games offered in casinos and bars to follow the standard rules as they are applied in Las Vegas. It is certainly possible that variations of blackjack like Spanish 21 might make an appearance. One would expect the table limits to be in the range of $5-$200
One curious aspect of the proposed bill is that it calls for a maximum bet of $200 per hand and limits winnings on a single hand to $800. This will dictate rules for splitting and doubling down. On video blackjack, players will be permitted to bet a maximum of $2 per hand.
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You can also read all of the articles on Counting Edge which include many casino reviews, explanations of different counting methods, and discussions of basic strategy.