Utah Online Gambling

Utah and gambling only enter the same sentence when the words “doesn’t have” appear between them. Few states have been as consistent in their refusal to entertain gambling in any form.

The Beehive State has no legalized gambling whatsoever — not even a lottery or sports betting. Utah casinos don’t exist, so you can be sure that legal Utah online casinos are not available either. In fact, the law covering this activity is in a chapter of the criminal code entitled “Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, Welfare, and Morals.”

The reason for this unbending rule in Utah stems from its history, which we will go into in more detail later. Anyone looking to gamble online while in Utah has only one legal option: sweepstakes sites. For now, let’s start with the basics of Utah online gambling (or the lack thereof).

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Is there legal online gambling in Utah?

Absolutely not. It is explicitly banned in the state criminal code. In fact, the law goes so far as to state that even if online gambling is legalized on the federal level (or delegated to the states), it will remain illegal in Utah. Basically, it is difficult to find a more hostile environment for online gambling than Utah.

Are online casinos legal in Utah?

No, online casinos are not legal in Utah. As previously mentioned, any and all forms of gambling including online casinos are illegal in Utah, so you won’t find any regulated real money sites in the state. However, sweepstakes casino sites such as Funzpoints and social casino sites such as Chumba Casino and Luckyland Slots do accept players in Utah and here’s how.

The sweepstakes/social casino model operates under three fundamental rules:

  1. You play for free.
  2. The sites must award their advertised prizes.
  3. Prizes must be awarded irrespective of how much money a player has spent on the site.

The key here is that Utah players can play slots online via Chumba without spending a dime. So these sites use sweepstakes law to legally offer casino-style games in almost all US states. While real money online casinos are not legal, sweepstakes and social casino sites do accept Utah players.

Can you play online poker in Utah?

Not at all. Online poker is illegal in Utah, so you won’t find sites like WSOP.com or PokerStars active in Utah. Residents do have the option to use the sweepstakes poker site, Global Poker. Players across the US, and in Utah, can play poker games through Global Poker’s sweepstakes model. Cash games and tournaments are available including a version of Texas Hold’em called Crazy Pineapple.

Will Utah regulate online gambling in the future?

Not going to happen. Utah has a strict no vice policy. There has been no movement since 1927 to change these laws. For now, residents and guests to Utah have the sweepstakes sites to play slots or a hand of poker online.

Legal online gambling vs. offshore sites

Utah is not gambling-friendly like its neighbors Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado. So when we say there is no such thing as legal real money online casinos in Utah, we mean it. There are no legal online gambling sites that are regulated at the state level. Any online casino that does accept players from Utah is an offshore site.

When it comes to offshore sites, there are a few things users should be aware of. The first and probably most important is, there are no promises users will receive their winnings from offshore sites. Should something like this occur, there is no legal action players can take to get their money back. Here in the US when you submit your personal information to set up a gambling account you can be assured your information isn’t being collected for nefarious purposes. The same can’t be said for companies that operate overseas. The best intentions might be there, but the level of security against hacking won’t be.

With legal gambling sites, winnings are paid out immediately and there is a level of customer support that is efficient and immediately available, not to mention state regulations and rules that the sites must follow. If legal gambling options are not available, much like in Utah, the best course of action would be the multitude of sweepstakes casinos.

Who regulates gambling in Utah?Utah flag rendering

Since gambling is illegal, there is no overseeing agency of any kind in the state. If, magically, one day gambling became legal, the state would have to create some form of gambling control board or gambling commission.

What is the legal gambling age in Utah?

Gambling is illegal. Therefore, there is no legal gambling age in Utah.

Types of legal gambling in Utah

The only types of legal gambling in Utah are the sweepstakes sites like Luckyland Slots and others mentioned above. Lottery games and casino gambling are a big no-no in Utah. Sports betting in Utah is included in this prohibition. In fact, pari-mutuel wagering was legalized and then almost immediately repealed, so you can’t find any horse betting sites like TVG in the state, either. Horse racing in Utah does exist, but not with any legal wagering alongside it.

Voters have roundly rejected any move to legalize gambling, with the exception of bingo. Bingo halls are mildly acceptable, although even in those cases, the operators have to use a convoluted scheme where they charge for food and bingo is technically free.

Instead, Utah residents have to travel to find legal gambling. For instance, a drive north to Idaho lets residents play the lottery. A drive east gives them access to the plethora of Colorado online sportsbooks. And a drive west… Well, that leads to Nevada casinos.

Utah casinos near me

If you expect to drive to Arches National Park or Salt Lake City and stop at a casino, think again. Utah’s strict gambling laws mean there are no casinos in the state, tribal or commercial.

Instead, many Utah residents travel into West Wendover, Nevada, if they are looking for a casino. West Wendover is only 125 miles from Salt Lake City. With a population of roughly 5,000 residents, West Wendover manages to support five casinos — and not small ones either. All five boast more than 10,000 square feet of gaming space, and three of them push past 40,000 square feet. Each offers 4,000 rooms.

Casino PropertyAddressPhoneGaming Space (in sq. ft.)Live Poker
Red Garter Hotel Casino1225 Wendover Blvd.800-936-368312,500N
Wendover Nugget Hotel & Casino101 Wendover Blvd.800-936-368347,500Y
Rainbow Casino & Hotel1045 Wendover Blvd.800-217-004945,624Y
Peppermill Wendover680 Wendover Blvd.775-664-225535,880Y
Montego Bay Resort100 Wendover Blvd.775-664-480040,000Y

Responsible gambling

If you or anyone you know has a gambling problem in Utah, the National Council on Problem Gambling is available. You can call or text 1-800-522-4700.

Another valuable resource is the Utah Department of Health, which is responsible for addiction services in the state.

  • Main location: 288 North 1460 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116
  • Call: 1-888-222-2542

History of gambling in Utah

Utah’s history as the stronghold of the Mormon faith is well-documented. Part of that faith entails living vice-free. Gambling, alcohol, and even caffeine are forbidden under the tenets of the belief system.

To that end, the sum total of anything that could be called gambling in the state occurred between 1925 and 1927, when pari-mutuel wagering was legalized, and then quickly repealed.

It is also important to realize Utah’s population is severely clustered in the northern and northwestern portions of the state. The seven most populous cities fall within 80 miles of each other in a roughly north-south line along Interstate 15, with Salt Lake City as the hub. The opportunities that might exist in places like Durango, Colorado, Northern Arizona, or even Las Vegas (which is easily accessible from the southwestern corner of Utah) are simply not feasible for the vast majority of the state. This is why West Wendover, with its close proximity to Salt Lake City, can support five large casinos as those seeking to place a bet or spin the reels of a slot drive out of state.

In other words, as in many states with similar situations, in-state money flows like a river across the border into the open arms of neighboring states. However, the state’s lawmakers have shown no sign of wavering. They have even called for greater enforcement and crackdowns on illegal poker games.

So things are pretty bleak for Utah residents who want to gamble, and it would be hard to believe things are going to change anytime soon.

Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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