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Sports betting simplified
Utah is a beautiful state that has wealth and a passion for sports. However, with its heavy Mormon population, gambling does not mix with that. Utah shares a border with Nevada, where many citizens of the Beehive State go when the need arises.
Legal Utah sports betting is an idea many residents have long abandoned. While folks in the Beehive state love to root for the Utah Jazz and their collegiate sports programs, gambling has never been a part of the state culture. Residents have always taken a much more traditional approach to the subject, seeing it more as harmful to those in lower-income communities and a violation of their faith.
But, with billions of dollars being wagered under the table in the US, surely some of that portion is coming from around the Great Salt Lake. While there are no physical locations where you can bet on sports, you always have access to a sportsbook with just a simple internet connection. However, some great legal online sportsbooks are available to Utah residents.
State of Utah Sports Betting Overview
Although horse racing does exist in Utah, wagering on these races is not allowed. The only thing gamblers do have in Utah is daily fantasy sites.
Utah’s strict rules against gambling are rooted in the population’s Mormon faith. Mormons are opposed to anything that could be considered a vice, which includes gambling and sports betting.
Utah is one of only two states with no form of legalized gambling, the other being Hawaii. It is also one of only five states not even to have a state lottery.
At the very least, Utah is conveniently located between Colorado and the gambling leader of Las Vegas. Legal sports betting is only a short road trip away for Utah residents.
That may be an exaggeration, but perhaps not when you consider that gambling laws in Utah fall into a section called “Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, Welfare, and Morals” in their criminal code. Even some socially free-to-play casino games are technically considered illegal. If we go a step further, Utah law states that even if online gambling were legalized at a federal level, it would remain illegal in Utah.
If anything, gambling laws have recently intensified, as gift cards allowing customers to enter into sweepstakes were recently banned in 2020.
There have been zero, and there are currently no sports betting bills or discussions being had in
Few people in Utah, including lawmakers, have displayed any interest in changing state laws to make them more amenable to sports betting or gambling. Utah sports betting efforts face an uphill battle.
Strong anti-gambling sentiments permeate Utah and make it difficult for any efforts to legalize sports betting to get off the ground. For instance, Utah enacted HB 108 in 2012 to preemptively outlaw online sports betting and gambling – years before the Supreme Court struck down PASPA.
State of Utah Sports Betting Timeline
2024: Utah legislator Kera Birkeland proposes to bring a lottery to the state with the profits going towards property taxes for seniors.
2022: There have been no attempts to legalize sports betting in Utah since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned in 2018.
2019: While there were no attempts to legalize sports betting in 2019, there was one attempt to legalize betting on horse races.
Sen. David Haskins said betting on horse races could help those from Utah involved in horse racing make money in the state instead of its border states.
But Haskins himself requested the bill be sent back to rules from its Senate committee, where the bill died.
In 2023, there were no attempts to legalize sports betting in Utah since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned in 2018.
While there were no attempts to legalize sports betting in 2019, there was one attempt to legalize betting on horse races.
Sen. David Haskins said betting on horse races could help those from Utah involved in horse racing make money in the state instead of its border states. But Haskins requested that the bill be sent back to rules from its Senate committee, where it died.
The odds of any gambling legislation gaining the traction needed to overturn the state’s ban on gambling and legalized sports betting are low, especially because more than 60% of the state’s population is Mormon and opposes gambling on religious grounds.
Such an effort would also face the significant task of amending the Utah Constitution, which prevents the legislature from authorizing any form of gambling. Article VI, Section 27 explains in no uncertain terms:
A constitutional amendment to authorize sports betting in Utah would require a two-thirds vote in the legislature and then receive approval from a majority of voters in the next general election – all taking place in a state deeply opposed to gambling.
Unfortunately, legal sportsbooks are not coming to Utah anytime soon. Utah online sports betting will also remain a distant dream for the foreseeable future.
However, fantasy sports sites like PrizePicks and OwnersBox are available in Utah and offer prediction contests that closely resemble parlay wagers. As far as Utah betting sites go, prediction-style DFS games are as close as it gets to sports wagering.