Liquor Lottery FAQs
Q. What is a liquor license lottery?
A. A liquor license lottery is a lottery drawing to determine a successful applicant for either a new city beer license, “floater” all-beverages license, new all-beverages or new restaurant beer and wine license.
Q. When does the department conduct liquor license lotteries?
A. The department receives census information from the Bureau of the Census, United States Department of Commerce in July of each year and that is what determines if there will be any licenses available throughout the state. The department also conducts lotteries in the case of a license becoming available due to lapse therefore causing a license to become a “last available” license.
Q. What is the process for a liquor license lottery?
A. When an available license within a quota area is determined and public notice of the availability is required, a notice will be promptly published once a week for four consecutive weeks in the newspaper of general circulation in the quota area. There will be a deadline of 10 days from the last publication date to apply for an available license. Lotteries will be conducted only for those areas that have more lottery applicants than available licenses.
Q. How do I apply for the lottery?
A. The applications for lottery can be acquired through the department or on the department website.
Q. If I'm applying for a Montana All-Alcoholic Beverages Floater Lottery License that requires I supply an irrevocable letter of credit with the application, what does this letter need to say?
A. All lottery applications for a Montana All-Alcoholic Beverages Floater License must include an irrevocable letter of credit. The irrevocable letter of credit must confirm the bank has approved the lottery applicant for a $100,000 line of credit for the purchase of an All-Alcoholic Beverages Lottery liquor license should they be the successful lottery winner. The Bank guarantees that it will not withdraw this line of credit or cancel this letter. Per Section 16-4-204, MCA and ARM 42.12.401(1)(e).
Q. Can I be placed on a waiting list for the lottery?
Q. Can I apply both as an individual and as a business entity for the same lottery license?
A. Yes. Only one lottery application per person per lottery license will be accepted. “Person” as defined in ARM 42.12.401 means any individual, firm, partnership, limited liability company, corporation or association. This means if you are a member, partner or shareholder of a business entity you may apply as the business entity and also as a sole proprietor.
Please Note: An applicant may only apply for one “floater” all beverages lottery license in a 12-month period.
Q. What is a “Floater” License?
A. A “floater” license is an All-Alcoholic Beverage license that may be transferred to a new location outside the quota area for which it was originally issued. This type of license cannot be mortgaged, pledged as security or transfer ownership for a period of 5 years after the transfer. A “floater” license issued as a result of a lottery is always gaming restricted.
Q. If I am a successful lottery applicant, how do I apply for the actual license?
A. If you are a successful applicant, you will have 30 days (60 days for a “floater” license) to submit a completed application to the department. An additional 30 days (60 days for a “floater” license) may be granted to an applicant upon the department receiving and approving a written request by the applicant that explains the need for additional time.
Q. If I win the license lottery, is there any cost associated with the application process?
A. Yes. For all lottery license applications, you need to pay the processing fee of $400, the licensing fee of $400 (excluding the Montana All-Alcoholic Beverages Floater Lottery License, which you will buy from another quota area), and fingerprint fees of $27.25 for each owner of 10% or more.
If you win a Montana All-Alcoholic Beverages "Floater" Lottery License, you need to buy a license from a quota area that allows for the "float out" of that quota area. The Quota System section on http://revenue.mt.gov/home/liquor/resources#Useful-Links-796 has a quota sheet that lists areas that allow "float out" licenses.
If you win the Montana Retail On-Premises Consumption Restaurant Beer and Wine Lottery License, you need to pay a one-time seating fee. This is 20% at the time of application with the remaining amount due before approval.
60 persons or less is $5,000; 61-100 persons is $10,000; 101 or more persons is $20,000 (The seating for 101 or more needs to have pre-approval from the Department of Revenue).
You also need to pay the processing and licensing fees listed above.
Q. If I am a successful lottery applicant as a sole proprietor, may I apply for the actual license as a corporation?
A. No, the application for licensing must be identical to the lottery application. Failure to produce identical information on both documents will cause disqualification of the applicant.
Q. If I am successful, can I just hold onto the license until I am able to sell it or operate?
A. No, if a successful lottery applicant does not begin operation of the license within 1 year of notification by the department of license eligibility, the applicant shall forfeit the license.
Q. How soon can I sell my “floater” all-beverage license once I am approved?
A. If you are a successful applicant and are approved to operate a “floater” all-beverages license, the license may not be mortgaged or pledged as security and may not transfer ownership for a period of five years.
Q. If I am a successful applicant, may I apply for a gambling license?
A. Only the last available and newly issued due to census all-alcoholic beverages licenses will be eligible for a gambling license. All other licenses will not be eligible, including any newly issued city beer licenses, restaurant beer and wine licenses and floater all-alcoholic beverages licenses.
Q. What is the deadline for applying for the lottery licenses?
A. The deadline is 10 days from the last legal notice publication in the newspaper, per ARM 42.12.406. (If day 10 falls on a weekend, the due date moves to the next business day).
Q. What if I am the second person drawn for a lottery license?
A. If the lottery winner withdraws the application or doesn't wish to apply, the eligibility goes to the next-ranked winner. We'll notify the next-ranked winner by mail.