The Bee Hive state, yes, that’s what’s on all the road signs, is one of the
few states in the US that disallows any form of gambling at all. You won’t find
any Texas holdem poker rooms or casinos here at all, nor will you be able to buy
a lottery ticket, participate in a raffle, or play bingo in the name of raising
money for charity.
Betting on horse racing is also prohibited and the state has an air tight
definition in relation to gambling so you really can’t get around it in any way.
Many have tried; most have failed, with some succeeding in still offering some
minor forms of gaming disguised as something else.
Utah basically prohibits most forms of gambling on religious grounds. The
state is the home of the Mormon Church, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints, and because of values and rules associated with this religion they
explicitly oppose all forms of gambling.
Despite the fact that the law prohibits all forms of gambling, you still have
a few options in relation to finding a Texas holdem poker game in the state of
Utah. On top of this you can even find a bingo game where you can still win some
decent cash. If this sounds interesting to you then read on and we’ll cover
exactly where you need to go to find a game, and what you’ll need to do.
If you want to play bingo, you may be able to come across a few restaurants
that offer bingo and cash prizes. These restaurants really are treading a fine
line between offering bingo straight up as gambling.
Basically, they offer players free bingo cards when you purchase dinner. So
you end up paying three or four times as much for a basic prime rib dinner while
you get free bingo cards along with it to play in the game after your dinner.
They offer cash prizes in these games and basically say it’s a fun game which
is put on for patrons who are eating in the restaurant. Law makers have tried to
eradicate this and have put some regulations in place, but you can still play in
these bingo games to this day.
Home Poker Games
For the poker enthusiast, and let’s face it that’s what we all care about the
most, you can find plenty of home Texas holdem games running around the state if
you know the right people to ask. These games are composed of respectable
members of the community and will involve no rake or commission whatsoever, it’s
just players putting on games for the fun of it.
While this is illegal and you could be charged with a misdemeanor for
participating, they don’t really come down hard on this and you’d struggle to
find someone who has actually been charged for playing in a game.
After these games you can also play poker in the Wasatch Poker Tour. This is
a poker tour which runs tournaments at pubs, bars, and restaurants around the
state, but mostly in Salt Lake City. This poker is free to play, but still
awards prizes, including cash for players.
This is considered legal because no player is wagering any money at all, and
simply enters to play and can be awarded with prizes from the pub, restaurant,
or bar they’re playing in, or the Wasatch Poker Tour organization itself. The
way the Wasatch Poker Tour makes money is by selling their services to the
venue, which pays a fee to have them come in and run a poker tournament. The
venue then makes money through food and drinks sales. So everyone is a winner
and you still get to play Texas holdem poker.
Keep in mind that if you play in some of these pub poker games, you’ll be
entering a world full of fish where the game will be slow, painful, and
downright frustrating. People will call down with nothing at all and you’ll
likely be eliminated by bad beats every single time you play. The key in these
games is to choose your spots and never try to bluff an amateur player. Let them
try to bluff you or call off their stack with a high card of single pair. Don’t
say we didn’t warn you!
These are really your only options in respect to finding live poker action,
or finding any kind of gambling type action in Utah.
If you wish to travel to play poker you won’t have to head that far out of
the state with some good options being available in neighboring states. The
obvious one is Nevada, which shares a large chunk of the border with Utah.
Here you’ll be able to find casinos and poker rooms to your heart’s content.
The closest poker rooms to Salt Lake City are located in Wendover, which is just
an hour’s drive to the west of the city. Over the border in Nevada you’ll find a
handful of rooms offering some great poker action, with the best being at the
Wendover Fun or Wendover Nugget casinos. Here you’ll be able to find cash games
If you want to travel even further you can catch a one hour flight down to
Las Vegas, or make the drive down in about six hours. This drive passes through
some fantastic places and goes past Zion National Park which is spectacular to
say the least. So if you wish to make a weekend of it to hit up the Bellagio or
Venetian Poker Room then it’s well worth stopping off for a bit on the way.
On the other side of the state you’ll have to do some serious travelling to
find poker rooms. While there are rooms available in Wyoming and Colorado,
they’re situated quite far away from the border with Utah so you’d have to be
going that way for something else to make it really worth it. You’re much better
off traversing Utah and heading into Nevada to find Texas holdem poker instead
of heading North or East.
Online poker still isn’t regulated in Utah and to be honest this will
probably never happen. Given the state’s hardline stance on all other forms of
gaming why would they all of a sudden regulate online poker?
Considering that some other states are falling in this respect because their
neighbors are regulating gambling and online play doesn’t really ring true in
Utah. This is because they border with one of the biggest gambling states of all
in Nevada, and still don’t allow anything.
While no company or entity within Utah can run an online casino or poker
site, as a player you won’t get in trouble if you choose to gamble online. You
can play at a range of online casinos that accept US players and also
participate in daily fantasy sports such as draft kings and fan duel.
The state has made some changes to their laws to state that some forms of
online gambling aren’t permitted, but it’s basically an opt-out system where the
state can choose to ban certain suppliers.
They haven’t banned them all and many online casinos still welcome players
form Utah. This could change in the future so be sure to stay up to date with
legislations and changes in this respect so you don’t end up in trouble in the
As for online poker, you probably won’t be able to find any respected or
trustworthy sites that welcome players from the US. So it’s probably best to
steer clear of these or proceed with extreme caution.
So there you have it; if you want to gamble in Utah you have a few small
options to do some gaming that isn’t really considered gambling under state
You won’t be able to sit down in a Texas holdem poker room anywhere and bet
big, unless you take a trip into one the three neighboring states that offer
casinos and poker rooms. Luckily for all the Utah residents out there, the state
shares a border with the gambling center of the universe in Nevada. So you need
not travel very far at all to sit down at the poker table for some action.
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