States across the country are legalizing sports betting — or at least considering it. However, Utah is not among them. In fact, the Beehive State might be farthest from sports betting.
With well-known and deeply rooted Mormon ties, Utah has successfully kept legalized gambling of any kind at arm’s length. Not only does the state not feature any casinos or regulated form of online gambling such as sports betting, but Utah also stands as one of five states without a state lottery system.
Lawmakers even went so far as to specify that online gambling will remain illegal in Utah even if the federal government allowed it. So online sports betting in Utah? Probably not going to happen for a good long while. We take a closer look at the state and its non-interest in legal sports betting.
Is sports betting legal in Utah?
No, sports betting and all forms of gambling are illegal in Utah. The possibility of the state ever legalizing or considering sports betting is a longshot at best, a Debbie Downer at worst.
Does Utah have legal online sportsbooks?
Short answer, no. However, let’s say lawmakers and the public eventually allow legalized sports betting in Utah. Unless there is also an allowance to build casinos in the state, it would seem more likely that the state only authorizes Utah online sports betting, similar to sports betting in Tennessee.
As such, in the event that sports betting somehow becomes legal in Utah, folks located within the state’s borders could access Utah sportsbooks and betting apps via desktop computers or on mobile devices. Of course, all of this is only hypothetical.
When will Utah regulate sports betting?
Never. If the Utah state criminal code is any indication, we might not ever see lawmakers even consider legalizing sports betting.
The state’s Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, Welfare and Morals contains this tidbit from Chapter 10 as it relates to gambling:
“If any federal law authorizes Internet gambling in the states and that federal law provides that individual states may opt out of Internet gambling, this state shall opt out of Internet gambling in the manner provided by federal law and within the time frame provided by that law.”
Summed up: If the federal government allows state-sanctioned online gambling (such as sports betting), Utah will continue to choose not to participate.
Even if the day arrived when lawmakers decided that integrating regulated wagering could be beneficial to Utah, they would face an Everest-sized mountain to climb before it would become a reality.
Can you play daily fantasy sports contests in Utah?
On paper, Utah does not specifically address whether or not daily fantasy sports is legal or illegal. With that being said, popular DFS operators like DraftKings and FanDuel have allowed tournament contests in the state.
Who will regulate Utah sports betting?
Nobody will regulate Utah sports betting. Why? Because it will never become legal. Hypothetically speaking, Utah would have to create a state gaming commission to regulate Utah gambling if one day it were to become legal.
How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Utah?
If Utah ever legalized sports betting, no doubt lawmakers would follow the trend set in other states. In most other legal jurisdictions in the US, state-regulated industries have set the minimum betting age at 21 years old.
Where can I legally bet on sports near me?
You can’t place a legal bet anywhere in Utah. Legal bets require a drive. The closest Utah comes to sportsbooks is in West Wendover, Nevada, which shares a border with Wendover, Utah. That small Nevada town is home to five casinos each with its own sportsbook. And the kicker? West Wendover is only located some 120 miles from Salt Lake City. West Wendover sportsbooks can be found in the following casinos:
- Red Garter Hotel & Casino
- Rainbow Casino & Hotel
- Wendover Nugget Hotel & Casino
- Peppermill Wendover
- Montego Bay Casino
Of course, once Utah residents cross the border into Nevada, they can download a number of NV online sportsbook apps including Caesars and BetMGM. For those who want a longer drive, Colorado sportsbooks are also just a road trip and download away. However, the vast majority of Utah’s residents live in the north and northwestern areas of the state.
What sports can I bet on in Utah?
The state is home to just one franchise in the big four North American professional leagues — the Utah Jazz of the NBA. But its pro soccer team, Real Salt Lake of MLS, also attracts plenty of attention.
Utah Jazz (NBA)
A New Orleans transplant, the Utah Jazz relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979 and rose to league prominence in the mid-to-late 1990s. The Jazz made five Western Conference Finals appearances in seven years, culminating with back-to-back showings in the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. The Jazz lost both title series to the Chicago Bulls and have not advanced to the conference finals since 2007. But that has not pushed fans away from backing their local franchise.
Real Salt Lake (MLS)
The club joined Major League Soccer in 2005 and has since built one of the most loyal fanbases in the league. Real Salt Lake claimed the MLS Cup in 2009 and finished second in 2013, not to mention its deep runs in continental tournaments such as the CONCACAF Champions League. The team averaged nearly 90% capacity in its stadium in 2019, 10th among the 24 teams in the league, proving the support and hunger locals have for the club.
Of course, it’s not all professional in Utah. Many folks have ties to local universities, including three that play football in the FBS:
- University of Utah (Pac-12 Conference)
- Brigham Young University (West Coast Conference*)
- Utah State (Mountain West Conference)
*Independent in football
In addition, Utah is also home to four other NCAA Division I programs, including three that play football in the FCS:
- Dixie State (Western Athletic Conference)
- Southern Utah (Big Sky Conference)
- Weber State (Big Sky Conference)
- Utah Valley (Western Athletic Conference)
If Utah ever legalized sports betting, it would seem a given that operators in the state would feature betting markets similar to elsewhere in the country. In states that currently offer regulated wagering, bettors have access to a wide array of sports. Obviously, American sports are the most popular, headlined by the big four North American professional leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) and college football.
Some of the popular betting options in the US include:
- Auto racing
- Mixed martial arts (MMA)
Operators in states with legalized sports betting also offer betting options on international sports as well as niche sports. These include cricket, rugby, cycling and even table tennis.
Types of bets
There are a number of sports bets that can be placed at sportsbooks when you visit Nevada or Colorado. While we won’t cover all of them, here are a few of the most common.
- Moneylines: This is the most basic sports bet ever. When placing this bet, you are simply picking which team will win. The only wrinkle, payouts for each team vary based upon which team is favored to win.
- Point spreads: In this bet, the sportsbook estimates the margin of victory. Then, bettors decide on if that estimate will hold up.
- Totals: Known as the over/under. Sportsbooks guess the total points that two teams will combine to score. Bettors then place their bet on if it will be over or under that total.
- Live betting: Also known as in-game wagering. This is a bet mostly seen at online sportsbooks. Live bets are wagering options that take place — live. They usually ask simple yes/no questions. Live bets can expand the total number of wagers on a single game into the hundreds.
Don’t forget about futures (betting on a future winner), propositions or props (events that don’t affect the outcome of the game), and parlays (grouping a number of different bets together into a single unified bet).
Utah sports betting wrap up
Among the tenets of the Mormon faith is living a pure life, one free from various vices. This includes sports betting. Therefore, the history of sports betting in Utah is short and sweet, because there is no history.
The only true form of gambling in Utah occurred during the heart of Prohibition in the 1920s. Between 1925 and 1927, the state offered legal pari-mutuel wagering. Since that time, any legislative efforts to re-introduce state-regulated gambling have been rebuffed by lawmakers and voters.
Horse racing does exist in Utah, though state law clearly states that nothing in the chapter allowing such racing “may be construed to legalize or permit any form of gambling.”
In 2012, as online gambling rose in popularity, Utah lawmakers amended some verbiage in state laws to include prohibitions on internet gambling, including the inclusion of the aforementioned Chapter 10 state criminal code.