Utah Gambling Laws
Along with Hawaii, Utah is the most-restrictive of all U.S. states when it comes to gambling laws.
However, Utah’s residents have discovered creative ways in which to enjoy gambling in Utah. While the majority Mormon population sees gambling as against their beliefs, bingo and poker-parlors are popping-up in Salt Lake City, offering prizes for tournaments with free entry, thereby circumnavigating the state’s strict laws. Fantasy Sports are also available.
See the table below for a snapshot of Utah stance on online gambling laws, betting on sports, casinos online etc.
|Gambling Type||Legal Land-Based||Legal Online|
|Fantasy Sports (DFS)||N/A||Yes|
Utah Gambling Tax Rate
There is no tax on gambling winnings in Utah, as no legal options are technically available.
Gambling age in Utah
Sports Betting Laws in Utah
While it is considered highly unlikely, Utah’s State Legislators can now theoretically consider the possibility of introducing legal sports betting to the Beehive State.
Despite the U.S. Supreme Court handing back sports betting laws to the states to determine for themselves began in May 2018, Utah’s lawmakers are unlikely to legalize sports betting in the short term at least.
Sports Betting in Utah
When considering the potential of legal sports betting in Utah, the state’s strict anti-gambling laws need to be closely examined. It’s not simply a matter of setting some regulations, applying sports betting taxes and opening for business. Codes on Anti-Gambling are written deeply into the Utah State Constitution and intermeshed into the social fabric of the strict Mormon State.
The state’s lawmakers will need to undo the State Criminal Code before even looking at sports betting, as Section 76-10-1102 of the Utah Criminal Code defines gambling as a Class B misdemeanor.
Whilst sometimes changes can occur suddenly-and-swiftly, don’t bet the house on legal sports betting being introduced to Utah anytime soon. In the meantime, it’s great that sports betting aficionados in Utah have the option open to them of playing DFS competitions for real money.
Sports Betting Online
Given Utah’s stern anti-gambling laws, it’s no surprise to learn that the Beehive State does not currently offer legal online sports betting for its visitors or residents.
The Federal Government of the United States have actually decided that gambling online is legal, however, each state is required to pass legislation to regulate and license online casino operators and all online gambling under their own state laws.
In a radically contrary move to the spirit of the Federal Law, in 2012, Utah’s State Legislature passed the bill HB 108 for the express purpose of making online gambling and online poker illegal. Utah’s HB 108 goes as far to include a clause in the law that reinforces the independence of the Utah Law;
“if any federal law authorizes internet gambling in the states, this state shall opt out.”
Finally, as if to drive home the point in Utah, rather than open a loophole to allow sports betting in the state in 2018, lawmakers successfully sought to close all loopholes in the state’s gambling law by passing SB 0225.
It all goes to underline that players in Utah should not expect online sports betting anytime soon in Utah. In fact, if you’re looking for online gaming opportunities try;
- States with Legal Online Poker and Casino Sites
- Utah residents can play DFS online. All major DFS sites accept players from the state of Utah.
Casinos in Utah
Neither commercial or tribal venues operate inside the State of Utah. In fact, no casinos at all are permitted under the state’s strict laws. Many of the state’s residents cross state borders to legally play casinos, most notably, into neighboring Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, Wyoming or Colorado.
Utah Land-based Casinos
Whilst no casinos exist in Utah at which you can gamble for real money, there are, however, plenty of establishments that hold events called “casino parties” from time-to-time. They are venues that provide all of the games found in a casino, however, without any real money being wagered. All games on offer are for fun and free, including poker and blackjack. As stated above, travel options to nearby states exist for Utahns to take part in casino gambling for real money.
Online Casinos in Utah
Online gaming options in Utah that can be played legally by online gambling aficionados are exclusively limited to DFS competitions. (See above in the ‘Sports Betting Online’ and ‘Sports Betting in Utah’ sections for explicit information on the Beehive State’s rigorous anti-gambling laws).
Online players in the State of Utah are advised to abstain from using both U.S. based online casinos and off-shore sites and not run the risk of running afoul of the austere state laws. As evidenced above, Utah is still quite determined to maintain its fiercely anti-gambling stance, and it may be some time before Utah seriously considers expanding its online betting options.
Horse Racing Betting in Utah
Whilst it is currently illegal to place a bet on horse racing in Utah (either trackside, off-track or online), there have been recent moves made to spur the State Government into legalization action on the topic.
The Utah Quarter Horse Association encourages the state’s citizens to breed horses and visit racetracks in the nearby legal states. The organization is also lobbying the Utah State Legislature to consider legalization legislation (unsuccessfully to date) for horse racing in the Beehive State.
Track Side: There are no legal or licensed horse racing tracks currently operating in Utah.
Off-Track Betting (OTB): OTB betting is not offered to residents or visitors to Utah.
Online Betting on Horse Racing in Utah; As yet, online racebooks are not available whilst within the geolocator limits of the State of Utah.
Utah’s Daily Fantasy Sports Law
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) have been determined by U.S. Federal Government to be ‘contests of skill’ rather than gambling competitions. DFS are accordingly then, immune from any Federal gambling regulations and/or legislative determinations.
Over the last half dozen years, across the United States, state governments have been exercising their state rights, and many have legalized DFS through their own respective state legislation/s.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly to many, Utah’s lawmakers have never moved to deem DFS illegal in the State. On the other hand, they have not moved to make DFS legal either.
Utah’s definition of gambling specifies that a game is considered to be gambling if it is “based on an element of chance.” It appears then that the state of Utah must consider DFS a “contests of skill,” in accordance with Federal take on DFS. Whilst there is always a possibility that the legal situation could alter, for now at least, DFS sites are free to offer their competitions to residents of, and visitors to, the state of Utah.
What is DFS?
Playing a DFS competition is a new and unique of online sports gaming and is not related to traditional sports betting.
In a DFS competition, in essence, you must become a ‘virtual team manager’, and stick to your assigned budget, and make decisions on your player choices and transfers.
If you wish to ‘buy’ a dream team including two of the Utah Jazz’s stars like Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles, you’ll need to spend a significant percentage of your salary-cap on those two-star players alone, with still 8 places to fill on your roster. Most winning DFS teams (competitions are usually held on NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, MMA, PGA Tour Golf, NASCAR and college sports) usually feature consistent ‘journeymen’ performers rather than superstar athletes on massive salaries like LeBron James, or Tom Brady.
Your DFS team’s real-life athletes amass stats based on their performances (TDs, receipts, rushing yards, sacks etc.) in the real-world sports events and as a result, your DFS team accumulates points online.
Usually, winning DFS competitors are superb ‘budget balancers’ and can squeeze the most points out of every dollar that they ‘spend’ on players.
The person whose DFS team accumulates the most points during the allotted time period, wins the daily, weekly, regular season or a stand-alone playoff ‘league’. Big prizes can be won each week or over the course of an entire season, and enormous cash prizes of more than $1 million per league can potentially paid out to winners of each separate DFS competition. DFS competition winnings are paid out from the prize pools that are collated from all the player entry fees.
Poker Laws in Utah
No exception has been carved out under the Utah law allowing for social or ‘home’ poker between friends, and as stated above, no casinos or card rooms to play poker for real money exist in the state of Utah.
However, Poker is possible via the bar leagues that do not charge for entry into their tournaments. Players are rewarded with cash prizes, and the leagues even have larger monthly events with bigger prize money up on offer. As there is no entry fee, authorities tolerate these popular poker tournaments. The Bar Poker Leagues give players an opportunity to keep their poker skills sharpened ahead of travelling to the legal casino states to play for real money.
Bingo is played in Utah, with restaurants creatively offering free-cards with their meals which give-away cash prizes for those ‘players’.
Online Poker Laws in Utah
Online Poker is an absolute ‘no-go-zone’ in Utah. See above sections, ‘Sports Betting in Utah’, and ‘Sports Betting Online’ for full details.
eSports Betting in Utah
When legal sports betting eventually becomes reality in Utah (after much future lobbying and government debate we imagine), a new generation of tech savvy gamblers in the Beehive state will have access to fully transparent and ‘family-friendly’ betting markets untarnished by the illegal betting past.
‘eSports’ (short for electronic-sports), has transformed video game play at the highest professional levels as a slick-run world tour played in full stadiums where champion players are signing multi-million-dollar contracts to compete for glory. Rather than competing for individual honors, eSports are usually played by teams across tournament formats.
The collection of games themselves in the overarching concept of eSports are roughly equivalent to different sports types. For example, in eSports, the games, Rocket League and CS:GO, compare to MLB and NBA.
The amounts wagered on eSports is experiencing enormous growth each year. Global Sportsbooks now offer a range of betting markets and tournaments have been transformed into worldwide-networked betting events with the advent of live streaming technology.
When sports betting turns up in your eventually-legal Utah sports book, watch for legal eSports wagering to play a prominent role in your regular and available betting types.
How will Utah Benefit from Legal Gambling?
- With no Utah State Government revenue currently being raised from legalized gambling, the State’s Budget could potentially benefit with legalization.
- For example, in neighboring Idaho (with approximately half the population of Utah), the Idaho State Lottery gave back more than $53 million to the state’s economy in 2018 and more than $846 million in the last 30 years.
- Since the introduction of the Idaho Lottery in 1989, it has generated funding for building school classrooms, after-school programs, libraries, and scholarships and University scholarships.
- Legalized, licensed and regulated online gambling, sports betting and/or commercial casino gambling could further improve the Utah’s infrastructure and services, in particular, among the state’s Native American citizens who might look for the approval of Tribal Casinos.
- Additional State Government Revenue could be generated by Utah’s tourism sector and associated service industries with legalized gambling, ensuing in much-needed job creation in regional areas.
Gambling History of Utah
1875; All gambling deemed illegal in Utah.
1925-1927; Horse racing betting legal in Utah for two short years.
2012; Online gambling specifically deemed illegal in Utah with HB 108.
2018; Utah State Lawmakers seek to further close loopholes in the state gaming law with SB 0225.