The Comprehensive 2023 Guide: Is Sports Betting Legal in Utah?

May 13, 2023 –

Is Sports Betting Legal in Utah

Utah currently has a ban on sports betting.

Utah’s stance on online sports betting is unequivocal; it is illegal. Given the state’s history, this fact may not surprise those familiar with Utah’s conservative perspective on such matters.

Despite the wave of legalization sweeping across the United States, a trend outlined in this ESPN article, Utah remains resistant, and it might be a long time before it joins the ranks of states where sports betting is legal, if at all.

There are numerous reasons why it is highly improbable that Utah will legalize sports betting. We aim to present them in the most straightforward manner possible.

In this comprehensive guide on sports betting in Utah, we will cover:

  • The present legal status of online sports betting in Utah.
  • The main hurdles preventing Utah from legalizing sports betting.
  • Our informed predictions regarding the future.

But before we delve into the specifics of online sports betting in Utah, let’s discuss the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for the legalization of sports betting in US states.

Supreme Court Ruling and Its Impact on Sports Betting in Utah

For those not intimately acquainted with the world of sports betting, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling on May 14, 2018, that radically transformed the American sports betting landscape. You can read more about this ruling in The New York Times.

The Supreme Court’s decision effectively overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, which prohibited sports gambling to maintain the “integrity of the game.”

With the federal ban on sports betting lifted, several states, including Delaware and New Jersey, promptly legalized sports betting, and numerous others have announced forthcoming sports betting bills.

However, Utah lags significantly behind due to its staunch religious values and historical opposition to all forms of gambling. Consequently, the prospects seem dim for Utah sports enthusiasts eager to place legal bets on their favorite matches.

The Current Situation for Online Sports Betting in Utah

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In Utah, sports betting is virtually non-existent, at least from a legal standpoint. This reflects Utah’s uncompromising approach toward all forms of gambling. In fact, Utah, along with Hawaii, is one of the only two US states with no legal gambling, encompassing casinos, poker, lotteries, charitable gaming, horse betting, and even bingo.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert clarified the state’s stance following the Supreme Court decision when his spokesperson announced:

“Governor Herbert appreciates the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of states’ rights to regulate gambling within their borders, a right Utah will exercise by continuing to prohibit gambling within our state.”

What Does Utah Law Say About Sports Betting?

Is Sports Betting Legal in Utah

Section 76-10-1102 of Utah’s Criminal Code explicitly prohibits all forms of gambling, including online betting.

Here are the specifics of the law:

(1) A person is guilty of gambling if they:

(a) participate in any form of gambling, including internet or online gambling;

(b) knowingly allow any form of gambling on any property they own, rent, or control; or

(c) knowingly allow the use of any video gaming device in any business establishment or public place.

Violations of these provisions can lead to a Class B Misdemeanor charge, which may result in six months in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. For repeat offenders, the charges can be upgraded to a Class A Misdemeanor, which could potentially lead to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500.

The Journey of Betting in Utah

Is Sports Betting Legal in Utah

Utah’s strict stance on gambling goes back to its roots, save for an occasional office pool and a brief period in the 1920s. In this section, let’s delve into the noteworthy moments in Utah’s history of gambling prohibition.

1851: From Deseret to Utah, Gambling Says Goodbye
Before becoming Utah, the region was called the State of Deseret. In 1851, they passed the first anti-gambling law. Later that year, “This Ordinance to Suppress Gaming” was etched into Utah’s first state constitution.

1875: Doubling Down on Anti-Gambling
In 1875, Utah ramped up its anti-gambling stance. All gambling forms were declared illegal. At the time, Utah was one of the few states that took such radical measures. This law remained untouched for 98 years until it was revamped in 1973. Even then, legalizing gambling was not on the table.

1925: A Brief Affair with Pari-Mutuel Betting
Between 1925 and 1927, Utah saw a glimmer of gambling activity. They legalized pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, marking the only instance of legalized betting in the state’s history.

2012: Strengthening Anti-Gambling Laws
With the rise of online gambling and sports betting, Utah had to modernize its anti-gambling laws. They revised the laws to include bans on online gambling. Two amendments were introduced into Section 76-10-1102 of the Criminal Code in Utah. These amendments ensured that the state would opt out of any federal law that authorizes Internet gambling.

Online Sports Betting: A No-Go in Utah

There are no legal online sports betting sites in Utah, and it doesn’t look like this will change soon. Despite this, some residents gamble on offshore websites. This risky approach could be replaced by safer alternatives, like traveling to Nevada for sports betting. This practice has been in place for years, given the states’ shared border.

Potential Online Sports Betting Contenders

If Utah were to make a radical shift and legalize sports betting, keep an eye on these three websites:

  • Sports Interaction: This Canadian company has been operating for over 20 years and has its sights set on reentering the US market. It’s already operating in New Jersey.
  • Caesars: A long-standing betting fixture in Las Vegas, Caesars is worth watching as legal sports betting expands across the US. It has already made its mark in New Jersey.
  • SugarHouse Sportsbook: Originally a Philadelphia-based casino, SugarHouse recently extended its operations to include online sports betting for New Jersey residents.

Popular Sports in Utah

Is Sports Betting Legal in Utah

No sports betting is currently allowed in Utah, but there would likely be a substantial market for it. Utah is home to professional franchises in the NBA and MLS, which could draw significant attention if sports betting were legalized.

Key Utah Teams

Several professional and college teams in Utah would likely attract betting interest:

  • College football is dominant, with the University of Utah and Brigham Young University both fielding popular teams.
  • An NFL fan poll by Dan Jones and Associates found that the Denver Broncos have the most support in Utah.
  • The Utah Jazz of the NBA is Utah’s sole professional team in the big four sports leagues. Real Salt Lake also competes in the MLS.

How to Bet on Sports Legally in Utah

Legal sports betting probably isn’t on the horizon for Utah. However, if residents choose to travel to other states to bet online, or if legal options miraculously appear in Utah, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Browse through the legal, US-based sports betting websites listed on
  2. Choose a site based on your preferences. This could range from user-friendly software to sites offering attractive deals for first-time users. Don’t hesitate to explore multiple websites before settling on one.
  1. Choose an accepted payment method and make your initial deposit. Most platforms accept credit cards, but some also offer wire transfers, Interac payments, or even bitcoin.
  2. Start focusing on the sports you know best and decide on your preferred bet types (game, prop, parlay, etc.).
  3. Lastly, place your first bet.

Is Fantasy Sports Betting Legal in Utah?

Like other forms of gambling, daily fantasy sports betting is also illegal in Utah. However, there’s a minor exception. Websites like Yahoo allow you to participate in fantasy sports, but only the free games. It’s not the same as the real deal, but it does offer some good practice.

What Lies Ahead for Online Sports Betting in Utah?

To be brutally honest, Utah’s future in legal online sports betting looks grim. Consequently, sports and gambling enthusiasts in the Beehive state are left to make do with underground and illegal betting options.

In an excerpt from the Deseret News, we get a glimpse of how this works in Utah. From cards, bingo, dice, and raffles, to sports and office pools, there are various ways for those seeking some action. The internet, too, has made gambling more accessible and widely accepted, offering an array of virtual casinos to anyone with a computer or cellphone.

Despite the changing landscape, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill remarks, “It’s a changing kind of environment because, with electronics and everything, it’s getting sophisticated in a different way.”

Far From Legal Sports Betting

Predicting the future is always a challenge, especially when it comes to long-term changes. As Senator Todd Weiler told The Salt Lake City Tribune, “Utah has a long history of deciding that they don’t want to gamble. I can’t say what will happen 20 years from now, but I don’t see that changing soon.”

However, change could be on the horizon. As states like New Jersey start to see profits from legalized online sports betting, it might inspire other states to follow suit. And yes, even Utah could be among them.

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