When will online sports betting launch in Utah?

According to the state’s criminal code, the answer may be never.

Utah is so opposed to gambling that the code actually goes out of its way to say online gambling will stay illegal even if it is legalized at the federal level.

From Chapter 10, part 11 of the state’s criminal code titled Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, Welfare, and Morals concerning gambling:

If any federal law authorizes Internet gambling in the states and that federal law provides that individual states may opt out of Internet gambling, this state shall opt out of Internet gambling in the manner provided by federal law and within the time frame provided by that law.

Legal betting options in Utah

You’d better head to any of Utah’s six border states to experience anything resembling legal gambling or online sports betting promotions. In 2020, the state banned the closest thing to gambling in the state: machines that sold gift cards that allowed the buyer to use that gift card to enter a sweepstakes.

Of course, that doesn’t mean gambling in Utah is impossible.

There are a number of offshore operators that have unlicensed gambling and sports betting websites that will accept bets from anywhere in the United States.

Those websites are dangerous for any consumer, however, because the consumer is left without any kind of protection.

That means if the operation chooses to not pay out a bet or close the operation without returning a customer’s account balance, that customer has no legal case to get their money.

Most popular sports to bet on in Utah

From a betting perspective, the top two Utah teams are likely in one sport: football.

The University of Utah Utes and Brigham Young University Cougars college football teams are the two most popular teams in any sport in the state and would likely receive the largest handle if betting were legal and bettors could bet on in-state college teams. BYU‘s men’s basketball team also tends to make the NCAA‘s March Madness basketball tournament interesting every few years.

Utah is also home to the Utah Jazz of the NBA, which has been a staple in the league ever since the John Stockton and Karl Malone were one of the best duos to never win a championship.

The Jazz aren’t the only professional team in Utah, either. Major League Soccer‘s Real Salt Lake has been a regular in the postseason the past decade and even won the MLS Cup in 2009.

Utah and Daily Fantasy Sports

Surprisingly, Utah does not specifically outlaw daily fantasy sports competitions.

That means the biggest operators in the industry, including DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo, can accept tournament and contest entries from within Utah’s borders.

So while sports betting is and will likely remain off the table, there are still some choices for sports entertainment in Utah.

Is horse racing legal in Utah?

Utah actually does have legal horse racing. But betting on those, or any simulcast races, is prohibited.

No advance deposit wagering websites, like BetAmerica, FanDuel TV or TwinSpires, operate in the state, either.

Utah sports betting timeline

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.

Utah sports betting FAQ

Is sports betting legal in Utah?

No, sports betting is not legal in Utah. It is unlikely to become legal in the future either.

Where can I bet on sports in Utah?

There are no legal options for betting on sports in Utah. Anyone claiming to offer legal wagering is doing so against the law.

Can I bet on my phone in Utah?

No. Without any legislation legalizing sports betting there can’t be mobile sports betting, either.

Offshore sportsbooks that are operating without a license will say they can accept bets from anywhere within the United States, including Utah. But without a license, there are no local authorities overseeing their activities, meaning bettors using those sites have no consumer protections.

Should an offshore sportsbook operation decide not to pay a winning bet or close the site and keep account balances, the bettor has no way to retrieve those funds.