Utah is one of the only two states in the United States with a 100 percent ban on gambling. So, Utah’s gambling laws are considered the strictest and the least forgiving. As a result, a resident of Utah can’t legally gamble at any brick-and-mortar casinos, sportsbooks, online poker sites, or race tracks with pari-mutuel wagering. Let’s see about legal gambling and Utah’s economy.
Utah has no state lottery. What’s more, it certainly doesn’t permit Powerball or Mega Millions lottery betting. Even charitable gambling in bingo halls is considered illegal in the State.
Though Utah’s gambling laws leave no gray area for betting enthusiasts, it doesn’t literally mean that the state’s ban is 100 percent effective. Like any other popular activity, there are loopholes that come with the ban. This means signing up at unregulated offshore online casinos, sportsbooks, poker rooms, and bingo halls for Utah gamblers. Hence, it is pretty naïve to think that Utahans never gamble.
In the upcoming sections, we take a closer look at where Utah stands in terms of legal gambling and sports betting.
Utah’s Stand on Legal Gambling
Alongside Hawaii, Utah happens to be the only American state that bans all types of gambling. However, Utah decided to take a step further by progressively making sure that their residents have no other option to indulge in games. In addition, House Rep. Jason Chaffetz even tried to make online gambling banned on a federal level in 2015.
Utah’s steadfast anti-gambling stance has a lot to do with its history.
Back in the 1840s, Brigham Young directed a group from the Church of Latter-Day Saintes, aka Mormons, to settle Utah. Presently, nearly 65 percent of Utahans identify themselves as Mormons, and the majority always happens to be against gambling when the issue surfaces on ballots.
In the Beehive State, you won’t be able to find a legal, commercial casino, a tribal casino, or even a lottery. The laws even ban social or private gambling in homes. From what’s given, it doesn’t appear that’s there is not much to talk about Utah’s gambling laws. However, you will be surprised to know that many poker rooms and bingo parlors have popped up around the city, attempting to operate through legal loopholes.
What are the Loopholes?
As mentioned in the introduction, Utah doesn’t permit any form of legal gambling. Meaning, the state doesn’t profit a single dollar from gambling. However, one of the first online casinos in Michigan or the closest thing the State has to a casino is the Southgate Social Club, which offers dinner and free bingo cards.
When this business based in Salt Lake City first began operations, they only served bingo cards to the customers who ordered dinner. Nevertheless, this meant that Southgate was profiting off bingo games. So, the government pushed them to offer bingo cards to non-diners as well.
It is pretty hard to classify Southgate’s services as gambling because they don’t ask their clients to risk any money on the bingo action. Nonetheless, in a state with around 85,000 square miles and no legal casinos, poker rooms, or racetracks, this is indeed the next best thing. Utahans also have the option to visit the nearby states for gambling options.
The great news is that Utah’s six bordering states all offer legal commercial and tribal gambling.
Will Utah Ever Legalize Gambling?
It is pretty hard to predict if Utah will ever make gambling and sports betting legal. Because the state hasn’t shown any signs that they are interested in legalizing any form of gambling. More than 65 percent of the state falls under the conservative Mormon group, which means gambling measures have little hope when it comes to passing voter referendums.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that everyone adheres to the laws. For example, a large number of private games are held across the state regularly.
It is also worth noting that Utah happens to take pride in its anti-gambling stance and conservative values. Currently, the only population segment that appears as a threat to the status quo is the several lottery players who travel to the neighboring states for Mega Millions and Powerball tickets. However, even this group is not vast in numbers to change the laws.