Montana to legalize blackjack?

A state representative in Montana has proposed a bill that would legalize blackjack, with revenue brought from the game to help pay for social services. Representative Tony Belcourt has introduced House Bill 423. The full title of the bill is six lines long (no, I’m not kidding), so I’ll call it “An Act Legalizing Blackjack” for short.

If passed, the bill would make it legal for Montana casinos to carry live blackjack tables. In order to offer those games, though, they would have to obtain permits. The money raised from permit fees would go toward the budget of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. The DHHS is currently having its budget slashed by belt-tightening lawmakers in the state.

No high-stakes games would be allowed. The bill sets a $25 betting limit for blackjack games. The money from permit fees would be earmarked for funding specific programs outlined in the bill. Some of those programs include suicide prevention, services for the mentally ill, services for the disabled, child foster care services and more.

Currently live table games are illegal in Montana. The state has casinos, but they only carry video gambling machines, such as slots and video poker. Back in 1991, a bill to legalize blackjack was proposed and was rejected. No efforts to legalize the game have gotten a lot of support since then. With the Department of Health and Human Services seeing cuts to its budget and the state needing revenue, this might be the best time to do it.

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