HELENA — Legal sports betting, usually reserved for “friendly bets,” backrooms, or sites that use cryptocurrency, has come under the spotlight in recent years. As of 2018, nearly 30 states have legalized some form of sports gambling. Sports Bet Montana opened in March 2020, making the Cat-Griz rivalry a little more exciting for some fans.
Before last year’s rivalry game, Sports Bet Montana was raking in just over $116,000 across 2,700 bets, making it one of Sports Bet Montana’s most betted single sporting events.
“Because we’ve spoken to other states, they’re having a hard time understanding the impact of something like Cat-Griz in Montana, where we don’t have pro sports, but college football is such a big deal. Especially when it comes to the rivalry play,” said Dan Iverson, content manager for the Montana Lottery. “Apart from things like tournaments or that sort of thing, but just for one game, it was definitely one of our top events of the last year.”
Sports Bet Montana began revealing lines for Cat-Griz with a standard money line and point spread bet Monday afternoon. Since then the lines have shifted drastically, alternative spreads and prop bets have arrived.
While not uncommon in the sports betting arena, this year Sports Bet Montana has featured various player prop bets for this year’s game. A prop bet is typically a line of bets based on the performance of a single or multiple players, including bets such as:
- Tommy Mellott 1+ Interceptions: +140 ($10 to $14 net)
- Defensive or Special Team Touchdown: +200 ($10 to $20 net)
- Robbie Hauck 10+ total tackles: -133 ($10 to $7.52 net)
- Montana State Scores in All Quarters: +135 ($10 to $13.50 net)
- Malik Flowers 33+ receiving yards and Nick Ostmo 77+ rushing yards: +245 ($10 to $24.50 net)
Now, mind you, these bets are not to be taken as betting advice and your mileage may vary as the lines could shift ahead of kickoff in Bozeman at midday on Saturday, but bettors are happy for the opportunity to place a different type of bet a shot at Cat-Griz.
“I look forward to some of those prop bets at Sports Bet Montana. I think the biggest thing for me is defensive touchdown and special teams touchdown, which has always been big at Cat-Griz,” said Jeff Unger. “Including security. I mean, we saw that security measures caused a lot, a lot of uproar at the Big Sky Conference this year.”
While the rivalry between the Cats and the Griz can be, and most often is, bitter, betting on it can change fans’ perceptions not only of the game, but of individual players as well.
“It really adds that extra game within a game as a spectator so you know, watch, enjoy and cheer for individual players because I can cheer for Tommy [Mellott]. He’s a Montana kid, although I want the Griz to win,” said Henry Charpentier.
While sports betting is an additional way to enhance the fan experience, it’s meant to be fun. If you think you have a gambling problem, get free, confidential 24/7 help from the National Association on Problem Gambling through the following resources: