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Utah Online Poker & Gambling Laws

Utah PokerUtah is one of the few states that made a decision about online gambling early on. The state has already stated that they will opt out of any federal mandate to regulate online poker. So, where does this leave poker players in Utah? Well, they are actually about in the same boat as the rest of the states. Utah obviously doesn’t want their residents gambling online, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. Many people from Utah log into online poker sites every day and play online poker. The good news is that no one from Utah has ever been charged with playing online poker at this point.

Can Players From Utah Play Poker Online?

Yes! Almost all US friendly online poker rooms still accept players from Utah. Some people think that since the state of Utah has decided that they want nothing to do with online gambling it means that it is not available in the state. That is definitely not the case. In fact, there is a large portion of online poker players that reside in Utah.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Utah?

Utah has no legalized forms of gambling so the general consensus is that online gambling falls into that category. We are not experts on Utah law, but what we can do is review some of the laws that Utah has in place pertaining to gambling in general. You can see these below:

  • Utah defines gambling as Gambling means risking anything of value for a return or risking anything of value upon the outcome of a contest, game, gaming scheme, or gaming device when the return or outcome is based upon an element of chance; and is in accord with an agreement or understanding that someone will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. Gambling includes a lottery and fringe gambling. (Section 76-10-1101)
  • Utah charges individual gamblers with a misdemeanor for gambling.
  • Social poker games are not permitted in the state of Utah.
  • We have found no instances where and individual has been charged with a crime for playing poker online in the state of Utah. [1]

The state of Utah bunches every event that rewards someone for a certain outcome into a gambling category. The state is dead set against gambling of any kind so I would say that it is safe to say that they consider gambling online illegal. As we mentioned earlier, we have found no instances where an individual has faced any charges in the state of Utah for gambling online to date.

Utah Gambling History

You would think that a state that is so against gambling would not have much of a gambling history to speak of, but that is not the case. The recorded history of gambling in Utah dates back to the 1800s. Like most states at that time, the gambling industry was thriving. In fact, one of the first laws that Utah ever passed was a law prohibiting gambling in 1840. However, the law did not stop gambling it just pushed gambling to an underground status. This is true even as of today. [2]

The anti-gambling stance in Utah is fueled mainly by the LDS Church which is prevalent in Utah. The state was against gambling even before it became a state. An early LDS Church president, Brigham Young lead a sermon in 1866, and he stated Let a judge decree that a gambling saloon shall be established in our city, and we will give him the privilege to get out of the city as quickly as he can. This sermon set the precedent for the future of gambling in Utah, and the stance has not changed among the largely populated LDS community in Utah.

Over the years, there have been many attempts by non-LDS residents of Utah to legalize some forms of gambling within the state. They have pushed for a state run lottery, charitable gambling, and pari-mutuel betting, but all of these efforts have failed. Utah has responded to any efforts to legalize any forms of gambling by saying We regard these efforts as a moral issue and unalterable oppose such proposals on grounds of private and public morality, as well as a threat to the cultivation and maintenance of strong family and community values. [3]

Unfortunately the battle continues, but at this time anyone who want to gamble is losing. The residents of Utah either have to leave the state to gamble or choose to gamble illegally because they have no other options.

Legalized Gambling Options in Utah

Utah is one of the strictest states in the United States when it comes to gambling. The state has no forms of legalized gambling. Many people choose to ignore the law and gamble online or gamble socially, but they do so at their own risk. We have found some instances of underground gambling organizations being busted in Utah, but to date we have not found any instances of any individuals being charged with gambling online.

Will Utah Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

At this point Utah is probably the absolute least likely state to legalize online poker in the United States. The state has taken a stand against all forms of gambling, and online poker is not exception to this. The state has already decided that they will opt out of any federal mandate to legalize online poker should it happen. So, if you are hoping that Utah will legalize online poker any time soon it is highly unlikely that will happen.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Utah Gambling Laws
  2. Jump up ^ Utah Gambling History
  3. Jump up ^ Push to Legalize Gambling in Utah
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