A legislative committee heard testimony on a bill that would legalize sports gambling in Montana as long as the betting was done in bars with full liquor licenses.

Supporters told the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs committee Tuesday that passing the bill would allow the state to legalize, regulate and tax activity that is already happening. The computerized wagering would be run by sports book companies with a percentage going to the bars.

The committee did not vote on the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Mark Blasdel of Kalispell. It was drafted in consultation with the state Department of Justice, companies that provide gambling machines to casinos and the Montana Tavern Association.

The bill follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows states to legalize sports gambling.

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