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. ARM 42.12.404
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. ARM 42.12.412
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. ARM 42.12.414
Q. How do I apply for the lottery?
A. The applications for lottery can be acquired through the department or on the department website. ARM 42.12.406
Q. What does an irrevocable letter of creidt need to say for a Montana All-Alcoholic Beverages Floater Lottery License?
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. 16-4-204 MCA and ARM 42.12.401
Q. Can I be placed on a waiting list for the lottery?
A. No. ARM 42.12.414
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. ARM 42.12.401
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. 16-4-204 MCA
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. ARM 42.12.406
Q. If I win the lottery, is there any cost associated with the application process?
A. Yes, for all lottery license applications you would be required to pay the process fee of $400.00 and fingerprint fees of $27.25 for each owner of 10% or more. ARM 42.12.111
If you are a winner of a Montana All-Alcoholic Beverages “Floater” Lottery License, you would have to purchase a license from a quota area (see “float out” licenses in quota sheet) that would allow for the “float out” of that quota area. ARM 42.12.144
If you are a winner of Montana Retail On-Premises Consumption Beer Lottery License, along with the process fee, you shall pay a $25,000 original license fee. 16-4-105 MCA
If you are a winner of the Montana Retail On-Premises Consumption Restaurant Beer and Wine Lottery License, you would be required to pay a one-time seating fee (20% at the time of application with the remaining amount due before approval).
60 persons or less is $5,000
61-100 is $10,000
101 or more is $20,000 (The seating for 101 or more needs to have pre-approval from the Department.) 16-4-420 MCA
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. 16-4-420 MCA and ARM 42.12.401
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. 16-4-204 MCA, 16-4-105 MCA and 16-4-420 MCA
Q. How soon can I sell my “floater” all-beverage or City Beer lottery license once I am approved?
A. If you are a successful applicant and are approved to operate a “floater” all-beverages license or City Beer license, you may not transfer ownership for a period of five years. 16-4-105 MCA and 16-4-204 MCA
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. 16-4-105 MCA and 16-4-201 MCA
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 (If day 10 falls on a weekend, the due date moves to the next business day). ARM 42.12.406
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. ARM 42.12.414
Q. If I am the successful City Beer lottery applicant, can I concession the license into a business?
A. No, you would not be eligible to concession the license in the first five years. 16-4-105 MCA