Several of the more high-profile operators have already left the party, including WOW Vegas, McLuck, Global Poker, and others. If the law, currently with the legislature in Montana, comes to pass, all those operating sweepstake casinos will be obliged to follow suit.

VGW Holdings, the company that owns Chumba, LuckyLand Slots, and Global Poker, took pre-emptive steps to exit Montana before the law pushed them out. While the bill is still pending a vote, with its full scope undefined, it is expected to at least mimic Idaho in preventing players from using their sweep coins or winning cash prizes.

The troubles for VGW Holdings may have been exacerbated by the filing of a class action lawsuit against the company, with a Georgia woman alleging that their offering constitutes illegal online casino gambling.

It is only the latest lawsuit to be brought against sweepstake casinos, following on from the decision of a judge in Washington earlier this month that found two mobile apps where players bought chips for real money constitute illegal gambling, with creators High 5 now on the hook for damages.

With the long arm of the law reaching around sweepstakes casinos in some states, conditions for operators are becoming ever more challenging.

The decision to leave Montana appears to be driven in part by the potential law change but also by the possibility that operators might actually lose these types of cases, opening the floodgates to payments for potentially sizable damages claims.

This is bad news for operators, many of whom now appear to be doing the prudent thing in exiting their riskiest state markets. For players, too, this represents a sad turn of events, leaving a segment of consumers with nowhere to turn for a service they clearly enjoy engaging with.

Some might see it as a necessary step on the road to a more regularised approach to online gambling in more states, though it’s hard to see how legislators and the judiciary flip on judgments like these to take a more supportive stance.

For now, players in Montana and some other states seem to be on borrowed time. With a bill pending that could radically change the landscape for sweepstake operators, it looks like more could be set to pack up shop in Montana voluntarily—before they’re inevitably forced to do so.