We’ll make this very simple: Ain’t no legal gambling in Utah and it doesn’t seem there ever will be. Heck, in Utah, gambling was fairly well illegalized more than 50 years before the settlements in the Utah Territory were incorporated into the Union.
See, members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, a.k.a. Mormons, make up 60% of the Utah population, and these folks tend to believe gambling is a mortal sin. You can bet (so to speak) that Mormons make up the majority of Utah’s state government and legislature, county commissions and city council; the prospect of introducing a bill to decriminalizing casino gambling in the state seems laughable.
Today, Utah is used as the exemplar of keeping gambling illegal in the United States, within a bizarre affiliation of holdouts like Virginia, Vermont, Alaska and Hawaii.
Population: 3.01 million (2017 est.)
Gambling Age (Casinos): n/a
Gambling Age (Lottery): n/1
Number of Casinos: 0
• Utah’s Great Salt Lake is four times saltier than the ocean.
• In Utah, it is illegal to fish while on horseback.
• The original capital of Utah was Fillmore, named for America’s lest interesting president of all-time.
• When Utah became a state in 1898, women’s right to vote was *taken away*; they’d been voting in territorial elections since 1870.
In 1847, pioneer/Mormon prophet Brigham Young arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and certainly not long thereafter declared that “We wish to suppress all grogshops, gambling houses, and all other disorderly houses or proceedings in our city, and to tolerate no intemperance or vice in our midst.”
Young’s sentiments for what would become Salt Lake City were codified into law when Utah was ganted statehood in 1898, and Utah has been stalwart on its gambling stance ever since then.
(Incidentally, what state in the U.S. would like its next-door neighbors, i.e. Nevada, to move more than Utah?)
Even the passage of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988, a positive boon for Native Americans across the U.S., changed nothing in Utah. As much as members of the nine tribes – including the Navajo residing on those parts of the Navajo Nation extending into Utah – living in the state might like to take advantage of IGRA, terms of the law dictate that the state must provide for legalized gaming. Thus, with even bingo illegal in Utah, Native Americans cannot even establish a bingo hall on reservation land.
None, but you knew that already.
Those heathen non-Mormon types who’d like to gamble typically do have some choice, however – if they’re living near certain state borders. The entire western border of Utah runs the length of Nevada, and we hear they’ve got a few casinos in that state. To the south is Arizona, and many Native American-run casinos are located in that northern part of that state. Colorado’s easterly, and they’re also a great state for casino gambling.
Yeah, right. If Utah did allow casinos, the minimum age would probably be around 40.
Did you know that the late Dr. Jerry Buss, longtime owner of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise, was born in Salt Lake City? Also a true story: Dr. Buss never attended a team victory parade after an NBA championship title win.
This bit of the legendary owner’s history came out in 2009 when, as the Lakers celebrated yet another title, Buss was photographed by TMZ playing poker “at a cheesy casino” in Los Angeles. Buss’s love of poker was hardly a secret, though, as he’d been seen playing in Las Vegas casinos for decades and even participated in a handful of World Series of Poker events.
And you thought we wouldn’t be able to come up with anything for this seation.
Young’s spoken decree of 1847 holds firm. Utah has no state lottery, no legal poker, casino gambling, horse racing, sports betting … even daily fantasy sports online is illegal in Utah. Geez, ice cram and music are probably illegal there as well. We just assume that about the only church/government-approved form of fun in the state is watching the Utah Jazz, who haven’t even competed for a title since Michael Jordan handed them back-to-back beatdowns in the 1990s.
When a Virginia state senator was asked about prospects for legalized casino gambling in his state, he said that his state would be second-to-last in ever doing so – with Utah named as the least likely to ever see casino gambling.
And that’s the measuring stick Utah provides. There will never be legalized gambling in this state. Okay, maybe not *never*, but we’re looking to the 22nd century at least here….