Utah Online Casinos & UT Gambling Guide
If you live in Utah and want to try your luck at casino games, we have some not-so-good news: there is no online casino in Utah and land-based gambling is not allowed too. The laws are quite strict and ban all forms of gambling (including Utah online gambling). But if you know how, you can still play hundreds of games and have a pleasant & productive experience – just join one of the casinos we have chosen for you. We selected these casinos that offer a legal, safe, and reliable experience, taking into account the needs of Utahns, and we list them all below. You can pick one right away and start playing, but if you want to learn about the gambling regulations in this state first, keep reading.
Gambling in Utah
It's easy to list the gambling laws in Utah because there are only two: the state constitution and the criminal code. Constitution Article VI, Section 27 simply says this: “Games of chance not authorized, including lotteries”. And the Criminal Code simply states that all forms of gambling (including Utah online gambling) are prohibited and that those who act otherwise will be punished with a class B misdemeanor.
In other words, there are not dozens of different provisions in different laws like in some states: with just two provisions, gambling, including Utah online casinos, is completely banned. We want you to fully understand this, as gambling is largely prohibited in most US states. The situation in Utah, on the other hand, is different: even games such as lottery, keno, and bingo are prohibited - gambling is not tolerated in any way. There is no online casino in Utah, no land-based casino, no sports betting, no lottery, and tribal casinos are not allowed too, for the reasons we will explain below.
So, what's the reason for this? Can they simply make, for example, lotteries legal? The State Constitution is the biggest reason. There are not many states that prohibit gambling with their founding terms. Such a ban would require amending the constitution in order to legalize any form of gambling, and there is no way to do that other than a referendum. And such a referendum wouldn't work either, since at least 60% of Utah's population is LDS.
LDS refers to “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. You may also know them as “Mormons”. Utah's roots date back to the Mormon prophet Brigham Young, who first came to these lands in 1847. The first thing Young did was to ban gambling, and many of his rules were used in creating Utah's constitution. For example, the constitution mentioned above was written in 1895, and the fact that it clearly stated that gambling was prohibited was due to the religious beliefs of the Mormons. This is a state listed in the “Bible Belt”, so this is not that surprising. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma are the other states of this Belt, and they have strict prohibitions about gambling too.
Nearly 150 years have passed, but Utah is still a Mormon state and continues to hold tightly to its founding values. Gambling (even its innocent forms such as lottery) is listed among the “great sins”, and for the same reason, it cannot be legalized – this will not be possible without a referendum, and the referendum will have a negative result since the majority of the population is still Mormons. For example, a referendum held in 1992 to legalize pari-mutuel betting resulted in a 60.20% “no” vote. To make the stance on gambling clear, in 2012, Governor Gary Herbert introduced a bill for banning Utah online gambling (HB 108). Most US states have no separate regulations on online gambling, but Utah did not hesitate to ban it separately. In short, there are no forms of gambling here – this may be the strictest state in the United States when it comes to legalized games of chance.
There are five states in the United States that do not organize a lottery or are not part of the federal lottery network. Among these, only two do not allow lotteries due to constitutional reasons: Alabama and Utah. In other words, it's no surprise that there is no online casino in Utah, as the situation is the same in many states, but here you're not even allowed to try your luck at a lottery. Governor Don Siegelman tried to legalize the lottery with a referendum in 1998, but the LDS Church blocked even the proposal.
You won't find any place selling lottery tickets in Utah, even national lotteries like Mega Millions and Powerball. You have to buy tickets from a different state. As a Utah resident, if you win any of these lotteries, you can claim your prize, there is no legal obstacle to this. However, you cannot buy tickets for these lotteries in your own state. For the same reason, instant win games (such as scratch cards) are not allowed too.
Sports betting is also considered illegal in Utah because it is a type of gambling. The type of bet does not matter, you cannot wager on horse races and/or dog races too. Utah online gambling laws also prohibit bookmaker sites, so just as there are no Utah online casinos, there are no online bookies either. Most US states allow on-track betting, but the rules are much stricter here. Pari-mutuel betting was legalized for a short time between 1925 and 1927 (with the Redd Racing Act), but not even two years later, a contrary law was passed, and this was annulled. Since then, things have not changed: online and offline forms of sports betting are completely prohibited and there are no tribal casinos offering them – we will explain why in more detail below.
Slot machines are defined by law as “gambling devices” and are strictly prohibited. The Utah Criminal Code defines them as “devices that are activated with coins, tokens or money and allow the user to try their chance to win inappropriate rewards”. However, there are exceptions to this, as the scope of this definition is very broad and prohibits almost any video game terminal. Therefore, the” amusement device” exception was introduced. The law allows electronic terminals and machines that offer the following games, even if operated this way:
- Video games,
- Driving simulators,
- Claw machines,
- Pool tables,
- Pinball machines,
- Shuffleboard games.
These are allowed because they are defined as “amusement devices”. You may have noticed that this is a very short and restrictive list. This is a conscious choice: Utah gambling laws contain very clear definitions and statements to avoid any “misunderstandings”. Utah Criminal Code Title 76 Chapter 10 clearly prohibits land-based and online slot machines and states that even options on this list are prohibited if they offer “improper” prizes. (For the same reason, some restrictions apply even to PC and console games that include loot boxes.) In short, you cannot find slot machines in Utah: there are no land-based casinos or Utah online casinos that offer them. In fact, even games that resemble them are prohibited.
Some US states, even though they prohibit gambling, grant some exemptions for games of skill. For example, poker rooms and clubs are allowed, provided they do not become a commercial casino. Likewise, it is often possible to form groups to play card games. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Utah. Strict laws prohibit all table & card games such as roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat and more. It is clearly stated in the law that online versions of these games are also prohibited, so this restriction also applies to Utah online gambling. It is not possible to find a place where you can play table games within the borders of this state. Your only option is to choose one of the Utah online casinos we recommend: they will accept you as a member and let you play dozens of table games with useful bonuses – you can even play against real dealers.
Land Based Casinos
There are no land-based casinos in Utah – we have already mentioned this above. However, there are no tribal casinos too, and this may be surprising for those who are not familiar with the subject. Because, like other states, Utah has lands belonging to tribes and they are free to use their own laws - so why don't Utah tribes open casinos?
To answer this question, we need to go back to 1987. The U.S. Court ruled in “California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians” case that tribes were free to impose their own laws on their territory, which may differ from the laws of the state in which that land is located. However, the states did not like this decision because it would not be possible to collect taxes from the tribes. Therefore, they started lobbying and got the following clause added to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988: “tribes are free to enforce their own laws, but in order to declare gambling legal, at least one form of gambling must be legal in that state.”
In practice, this is not a very compelling requirement, as almost every state has legalized bingo, keno, or lottery, and since these are all considered a form of gambling, tribes can fully legalize gambling in their territory too. But Utah is a real exception: even the lottery is not legal here. Once again, no form of gambling (including keno, bingo, raffle, lottery) is allowed. For this reason, it is not possible for tribes in Utah to legalize gambling on their own lands. You won't find any land-based casinos in Utah, and of course there is no such thing as Utah online gambling. But don't worry; you can still try your luck on one of the casino sites we recommend. And if you really want to go to a real casino, Nevada is very close to you: maybe it's time for a weekend trip.