The state of Utah has a long track record of opposing gambling in all forms.
Even though the Beehive State borders on the gambling capital of the U.S., it is currently one of two states in the country with absolutely no legal land-based gambling at all. No casinos. No lottery. No pari-mutuel wagering. No charitable gambling. No sports betting.
Nevada gaming revenues totaled almost $12 billion in 2018, according to the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV. Utah, unlike its neighbor to the west, has been at zero dollars in revenue for years.
Have these strict laws stopped residents playing their favorite slots or betting on the Utah Jazz basketball team? Or course not.
Visitors to the trusted offshore provider Bovada have been enjoying the betting action on this site for years.
And, if you live in Salt Lake City and don't mind a two-hour car ride, West Wendover, Nevada sits right on the border of the two states and gets many guests from Utah every day.
Betting Laws in Utah
More than three million people live in Utah, a western state that is the 13th largest by area in the United States. Small mountain ranges and rugged terrain highlight the breathtaking landscapes.
Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.
Salt Lake City is the state capital of Utah and its largest city with more than 200,000 residents.
More than 60 per cent of Utahns are reportedly members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, making Utah the only state with a majority population belonging to a single church. This has a profound effect on the culture, politics and daily life of residents in the state.
Gambling laws in Utah are determined and regulated at the state level. The minimum legal age for any form of gambling in Utah is not available as all forms of gambling are illegal. However, bingo is allowed if offered free of charge.
The stance of the state authorities is evident by the fact they don't even permit charitable and social gambling — two forms of betting that are often allowed even by states that retain strict betting laws.
Apparently, though, these tough regulations haven't stopped gambling activities from taking place.
"There's so much poker going on in this state," said Chadler Cowles, a past Utah director of the Poker Players Alliance. "You'd be surprised at who you saw at a game — doctors, lawyers, dentists, sometimes bishops, active members of every church you could imagine."
While there are no land-based commercial or tribal casinos in Utah, there are 334 gaming venues to the west in Nevada, including five in the border town of West Wendover. This small town of roughly 5,000 residents manages to support these big establishments, thanks mainly to out-of-state visitors.
And then there's the Internet, where those wishing to play their favorite game can find it in the comfort of their own home.
"It's a changing kind of environment because with electronics and everything, it's getting sophisticated in a different way," said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.
There are just six states without a state-run lottery, and that list includes Utah. It is not illegal for Utah residents to purchase tickets for out-of-state lotteries, but the sale of lottery tickets from other states is prohibited within state lines.
Utah's Sports Betting Laws
Utah still has a constitutional ban against all forms of sports betting and is unlikely to ever take a legal sports bet, even though the Supreme Court struck down a federal law in May 2018 that bars gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.
Many of Utah's neighbors are moving towards legalization of sports betting with dozens of states already on board or looking into the gaming opportunity. It's a trend that's gaining steam, but one in Utah that would require the government and voters to alter their stance and overturn the constitutional ban.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he appreciates the Supreme Court's reaffirmation of states' rights to regulate gambling. It's a right Utah "will exercise by continuing to prohibit gambling within our state," said a spokesman for the governor.
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Utah's Favorite Sports Teams
The Utah Jazz are the state's lone professional sports team. The franchise began play as an expansion team in 1974 as the New Orleans Jazz before moving to Salt Lake City in 1979.
The Jazz were one of the least successful teams in the league in their early years. Although 10 seasons elapsed before the Jazz qualified for their first playoff appearance in 1984, they did not miss the playoffs again until 2004. The Jazz have won two conference titles and lost in the NBA Finals to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1997 and Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers in 1998.
Jazz hall of famers include Pete Maravich, John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Utah is also home to some major universities, including the Brigham Young Cougars and the Utah Utes. BYU has won 10 NCAA team national championships, including the 1984 football title. Utah has won 22 national championships, including the 1944 basketball title.