Utah is one of the toughest states in the union as far as any form of gambling is concerned. This is possibly due to the large Mormon population and this is reflected in the Utah penal code which states that gambling is a Class B misdemeanor and a Class A if you should be charged with the offence more than once. Gambling in Utah, “means risking anything of value for a return or risking anything of value upon the outcome of a contest, game, gaming scheme, or gaming device when the return or outcome is based upon an element of chance.” There are a few points of note to take from that, firstly that gambling is risking anything of value, which means you may play poker without money being involved, and also that the outcome is based upon an element of chance. Even fans of the game who regard poker as a game of skill, have to admit that there is 'an element of chance'.
Playing Home Games in Utah
Looking at how the laws of gambling in general are worded, this means that sadly for residents of Utah home poker games are illegal. The extent of how much these laws are enforced is up for debate however, by the letter of the law they are illegal. Many states allow for home games to be played with certain restrictions such as the host not making a profit from the game, however that's not the case in Utah. There are groups within the state that have been pushing for this law to be changed however they never get very far and probably will not do so for a long time yet.
Playing Online Poker in Utah
Playing a game of poker online may in fact be the only way for residents of Utah to get a game. As things stand there is no laws at all regarding online poker. The only law to be found regarding internet gambling is one that forbids any passengers of a train operated by the transit authority may not gamble online, strange. It sounds rather odd but for all intents and purposes, playing online poker in Utah is 100% legal, with no state laws that prohibit it and non at all at federal level. Many residents of the state do in fact play online regularly and there are many online poker rooms that welcome them with open arms. Three of the best are Bovada Poker, BetOnline Poker and Americas Cardroom, all of which offer welcome bonuses and other great promotions.
Playing Poker in a Utah Casino
As you would imagine from reading the above, Utah has nothing that resembles a traditional style casino. The closest you'll come to this are the bingo halls that are in fact legal in the state. There are groups that are pushing for the 'bingo clubs' to start offering more than just bingo, such as slots and other electronic games and maybe that will happen one day, but at the moment as far as playing poker goes then it's a big no.