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Poker in Utah? - Not Unless You Play Online (Which is Legal BTW!)

Utah Online Poker

When it comes to real-money online poker in Utah, you may be surprised to find out that there are quite a number of offshore sites that are ready to serve you. Utah online poker is a popular pastime that thousands of players in the state enjoy. This makes sense when we consider that there are no land-based casinos in Utah, so anyone looking to join a game of cards and risk actual cash must of necessity head onto the internet.

It is actually possible for Utah residents to participate in brick-and-mortar poker games, but they must exit the state to do so. Wendover casinos, just across the Nevada border, do host an assortment of tournaments and cash games. However, driving to one of these venues, waiting for a seat to open up, exchanging your money at the cashier, and conducting all the other ancillary activities involved in live casino play cuts down on the time you actually spend playing. It's probably far better to just log into the virtual poker room of your choice and play from home, in your pajamas if you feel like it.



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The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 is often mistakenly believed to apply to banks processing internet poker transactions throughout the country. Fortunately, this legislation targets financial entities and gambling companies themselves rather than individual players. Furthermore, there are countless workarounds to this invasive legislation, so funding your account isn't really a problem. As long as you do your Utah online poker playing privately and without trying to entice others to join, you seem to be perfectly safe.

Table of Contents

1.   Introduction
2.   Poker Sites
      2.1. Ignition
      2.2. Winning Poker Network
      2.3. Chico Poker Network
      2.4. Intertops
      2.5. Grand Poker Network
3.   Selection Guidelines
4.   Payments
5.   Laws
6.   Gambling History
7.   Regulated Poker?
8.   Conclusion
9.   Address in Nearby State?
10. FAQ
11. Additional Resources

 

Reliable Destinations for Online Poker in Utah

While there are a number of geographic areas within the United States that some foreign internet gambling firms shy away from, Utah is surprisingly not among them. You therefore have access to the entire menu of real-money internet cardrooms that anyone from any other state does. There are a couple of them that are perhaps disreputable or dishonest, but we've elected to avoid mentioning any questionable companies. The online cardroom sites that we recommend to you have all been in business for years, and they pay out winnings fairly and speedily.

Ignition

Ignition Casino Poker Room Logo

If you're just starting out with your online poker adventure, then you'll most likely appreciate Ignition Poker and its anonymized tables. There are no screennames here, so it's impossible for savvy professionals to target newcomers. Ignition and its partners on the PaiWangLuo network are some of the only organizations online to run their tables in this way. It appears to be a successful strategy because this network has the most traffic of any internet poker operation that serves the United States.

When you make your initial deposit at Ignition, you'll get your funds matched 100% with bonus money up to a maximum value of $1,000. As you play in sit-and-goes and tournaments, you'll get back 30% of the fees you pay. In cash games, the rakeback equivalent is difficult to determine, but it will be a bit less than 30%. The bonus is paid out in portions based upon point tiers, and the initial segments of it have a faster rate of clearing than the final pieces.

Professional Rakeback Ignition cta

Cash games, in both No Limit Texas Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha formats, are spread as low as $0.02/$0.05 and as high as $5/$10. Pot Limit Omaha-8 also runs frequently. You'll see some action in Limit Hold'em and Limit Omaha/8 as well, but you might have to mix stakes if these limit games are your primary focus. On top of these standard ring game tables, Ignition also provides Zone Poker, a fast-fold variant where anyone mucking his or her cards is brought immediately to a new table and gets a new hand. With Zone, you can really pick up the pace and play hundreds of hands per hour.

The SNG lobby has contests from $1 + $0.05 up to $200 + $14. Ignition is the only poker room open to Americans that features Triple-Up sit-n-gos. They seat nine players, the top three of whom will receive identical prizes of triple the buyin. You'll also encounter special Beginners events that pay out a larger percentage of the field than normal sit n' goes do.

The weekly tournament lineup is anchored by the $150 + $12 $100,000 guaranteed tournament, which runs on Sundays and frequently surpasses its guarantee by a mile. There are other tourneys spread throughout the week with pretty generous minimum prizes, and you don't have to pay a fortune to enter most of them. In fact, some MTTs cost as little as $1 + $0.10 to register for. Several times per year, Ignition hosts big tournament series – like the Super Millions Poker Open – that pay out millions of dollars to the fortunate winners.

You can download the Ignition software to either a Mac or a Windows machine. In addition, cash games are available through a responsive web client that works with virtually every modern smartphone and tablet. Tourneys and sit-n-goes have not yet appeared on the mobile app though. Learn more about this provider with our comprehensive Ignition Poker review.

Winning Poker Network

WPN Logo

The Winning Poker Network is a group of dependable sites that pool their traffic together to create a bustling destination for online poker in Utah and most of the rest of the world. Of all the rooms on this network, we like Americas Cardroom the best. It provides new customers with a 100% up to $1,000 bonus (worth 20% rakeback) and $50 free to use on Jackpot Poker SNGs, described below. Furthermore, all players can choose between straight 27% rakeback or Elite Benefits rewards. Most people see superior returns from the RB deal, but Elite Benefits may be better for serious grinders who play significant volume for stakes that are non-trivial.

The perks you get for signing up aren't the end of the rewards at ACR. Cash game enthusiasts get to climb The Beast leaderboard while sit-and-goers have a similar contest called Sit & Crush. At the end of every week, the highest-placing competitors earn both cash prizes and tickets to satellite tournaments. Every now and again, the poker room offers reload bonuses that allow you to pad your bankroll.

The blinds go up to $25/$50 for NLHE and PLO, making Americas Cardroom the preferred destination for Americans with significant resources to dedicate to their gaming hobby. Yet, the presence of games as low as $0.01/$0.02 makes this an appropriate choice for those on tighter budgets too. The existence of Limit Hold'em, Seven Card Stud (hi-only and hi-lo split), and Limit Omaha-8 caters to those who like other styles of poker besides the big-bet formats.

Single-table tournaments are an area of intense focus for the Winning Network, and developers have deployed two unique variants that are absent from competitors in the U.S.A. real-money online poker market. SNG 2.0 games start whenever nine players sign up, and they then enter a pre-game feature. Everyone chooses a card randomly and then reveals it in order, and the right combination of face-up cards unlocks higher prize pools. Jackpot Poker is a type of lottery SNG, of the sort commonly found at global sites but rare at U.S.-friendly rooms. Entrants' buyins are multiplied by a random number to determine the prize pool, which can be up to 2,500 times what they paid to register. Apart from these unique offerings, standard SNGs are denominated from $1.50 + $0.12 through $1,200 + $14, but everything above about $200 seldom runs.

Tournaments are where it's at on Americas Cardroom, and that's why we put this room at the head of our rundown of the best poker tournament sites for U.S. players. Besides holding the largest Sunday Major open to the Land of the Free (the $200 + $15 Sunday Special, which guarantees $150,000), there are also frequent series, like the Online Super Series (OSS), which contains dozens of events and distributes seven figures in cash during each of its incarnations. Also keep the recurring Million Dollar Sunday on your radar. Every few months, ACR runs this $500 + $40 event that awards the winners $1,000,000+. You can earn your entry for much less with myriad satellites.

Americas Cardroom is tailored to users of Windows PCs although there is a Mac client in public beta. Read all about the reasons for joining up today in our thorough Americas Cardroom review page. Or find out about the other poker options on the Winning Poker Network:

Chico Poker Network

SB.ag Logo

The Chico Poker Network, of which Sportsbetting.ag is a part, offers up the most sizeable bonus of any of the entries on our list of Utah online poker solutions. You'll qualify for a 100% up to $2,500 bonus that's worth 33% of your rake back. As long as you can put in reasonable volume at the tables, you may see extra returns from the $20,000 handed out each week via leaderboards to the top players in cash games, SNGs, and multi-table tourneys. Comp points are another way to get some extra benefits because you can use them to buy into select tournaments in lieu of cash.

The blind levels for ring games start at $0.01/$0.02 and top off at $5/$10 for each of the most frequented games: NLHE and PLO. PLO/8 tables also attract a decent amount of traffic, but this variant is offered at a more restrictive stake range than its two counterparts with the highest games being $2/$4. Stud Hi, Stud Hi-Lo, LO8, NL Americana, and NL 32 Card Draw round out the selection, but hardly anybody ever plays these games.

Sportsbetting Play Now Highlights CTA

Anyone looking for single-table competitions will be pleased by the range of stakes at Chico because they run from $0.05 to $500 + $25. SNGs up to about the $200 level start up fairly regularly. Given the state of the sit-and-go lobby, it might be startling to learn that the multi-table tournament selection is not quite as robust. Normal daily events are almost all priced at $33 and less. The only real highlight to the MTT lineup is the Main Event, a $90 + $9 tournament that runs on Sundays and pays out a minimum of $50,000. On the last Sunday of each month, the Main Event instead costs $100 + $9 and guarantees $100,000.

The mobile app at the Chico Network, for iOS and Android, allows you to access nearly the entire panoply of games that are present. As far as desktop software goes, you can download it for either PC or Mac. Read our review of SB.ag Poker to better acquaint yourself with this operator. For another site on the same network, check  our our fact-filled BetOnline poker review.

Intertops

Intertops Poker Logo

The poker room at Intertops is fairly small when compared to the places we've discussed above. It's nevertheless a fine online gambling site because it has been around for more than 30 years, starting out as an offline bookmaker in the '80s. It has had its share of ups and downs in the industry, but it has never failed to pay out any legitimate winner. Intertops is now the main site of the Horizon Poker Network.

The NLHE tables here go up to $10/$20, but the vast majority of games with people seated at them tend to occur at $0.25/$0.50 and lower. PLO also sees some sporadic action. SNGs seldom fire, and when they do, it's usually for microstakes. The tournament scene for smaller events is pretty decent, but those who wish to put serious money on the line are restricted to the $50 + $5 daily Sundowner tourney with a $1,500 guarantee from Monday - Saturday and $2,500 on Sunday.

What really makes Intertops one of the leading places for online poker in Utah is its diverse and varied promotional roster. Customers who make their first deposits get a 200% up to $1,000 bonus, which can be worth as much as an astonishing 54% rakeback depending on the specific games played to clear it. 36% dealt rakeback continues to deliver value even when the bonus runs out. In point of fact, it's pretty hard to ever completely “run out” out of bonuses at Intertops because there are reloads every month or two. In addition, there's a $4,000 rake race each week and a loyalty program for even more extra benefits.

You can download the Intertops poker client only for Windows operating systems, but there is an Instant Play web version that works with pretty much every browser-enabled device. Join Intertops to begin earning your rewards today.

Grand Poker Network

Grand Poker Network Logo

The newest and smallest entry on our list, Grand Poker is geared toward recreational and part-time players. The number of games on offer won't be enough to satisfy the most hardcore grinders, but anyone looking for a fishy cash game or two should be able to join one, at stakes of between $0.05/$0.10 and $1/$2. This site is perhaps better for tournament players, though, despite there being no MTTs above $5 + $.50. Every day, there are a few tourneys that have a $0 house fee, meaning that the operators don't take a cut for themselves and instead redistribute every cent of the money collected to the winners. On Sundays, you can join a $500 freeroll with a smallish field – perfect if you seek to grow a bankroll from nothing.

Strong cross-platform compatibility is one of the selling points of the Grand Poker Network. You can participate in the games from a Windows PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, and virtually every other computing platform in existence. Another reason to play here is the weekly 50% rakeback, which combines with the everyday low rake to help you score a profit. Learn more about the Grand Network sites in our thorough Grand Poker overview.

Which of These Poker Rooms Is Best?

All of the rooms we've highlighted have their particular strengths and areas of focus, so it's not really reasonable to designate any one of them as the “best.” You'll have to evaluate your own preferences and the types of gameplay you savor to arrive at a sensible decision. If you're still unsure of the ideal Utah online poker provider for your needs, then the following rules of thumb may be useful to you:

➡ If you'd like to be able to sit across from weaker opponents, then Ignition, Chico, and Intertops have the juicy games you're searching for.


➡ If the sheer number of active tables and tourneys available is your primary consideration, then Ignition and the Winning Poker Network have you covered.


➡ If you're interested in the fastest-clearing bonuses, then the Chico Poker Network and Intertops should give you what you want.


➡ If fast-fold ring games appeal to you, then there's no other U.S.-friendly site for you besides Ignition and its Zone product.


➡ If you're a partisan of SNG tournaments, then the Winning Poker Network is the place to go for the widest possible variety of them.


➡ If you're often outside your home and wish to partake in mobile play, then the apps developed by the Chico Network, Ignition, and Grand enable you to play from your phone or tablet.


➡ If you want to attempt to win your share of large MTT prize pools, then the Winning Poker Network and Ignition contain the largest tournaments open to Americans.

 

Funding Your Utah Online Poker Account

Money Bag

Each of the poker operators that allow Utah players has a roster of payment methods to permit deposits and withdrawals. Unfortunately, many of them are slow, and they sometimes incur additional fees. Many people choose credit cards as an easy way to add money to their accounts, but these transactions are sometimes blocked by banks, and cards can't be used to get your winnings back from the sites. Bitcoin is probably the best way to transfer cash to and from online gambling organizations because it's speedy, relatively anonymous, and almost fee-free. If you aren't familiar with Bitcoin, then you can peruse our beginners guide to BTC to find out how to successfully use it for online poker. Regardless of the means you decide to employ for payments, it's probably wise to check out our U.S. real-money offshore poker payment speeds report.

Online Poker Laws in Utah

Book of Law

Unlike with many other states, the statutes in force in Utah with respect to online gambling are clear and unambiguous. Unfortunately, they're clearly unfavorable and unambiguously designed to completely ban the pastime. The part of the Utah state laws that deals with this subject is Title 76, Chapter 10, Part 11. In the first section, 1101, of this chapter, we find the definition of gambling:

(2) (a) "Gambling" 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:

(i) is based upon an element of chance; and

(ii) is in accord with an agreement or understanding that someone will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.

This is very broad phrasing that certainly includes poker because there's no doubt that the game “is based upon an element of chance.” It also encompasses racetrack betting, wagering on sports, casino gaming, and more. Let's turn to the next piece of the gambling laws in Utah, section 1102:

(1) A person is guilty of gambling if the person:

(a) participates in gambling, including any Internet or online gambling;

(b) knowingly permits any gambling to be played, conducted, or dealt upon or in any real or personal property owned, rented, or under the control of the actor, whether in whole or in part; or

(c) knowingly allows the use of any video gaming device that is:

(i) in any business establishment or public place; and

(ii) accessible for use by any person within the establishment or public place.

From the clause “including any Internet or online gambling” from (a) above, we see that even poker played over the net, using your computer or cellphone, is prohibited. On to the penalties for gambling from the same section of the Utah laws:

(2) Gambling is a class B misdemeanor, except that any person who is convicted two or more times under this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

There are weightier punishments on the books for those who actually run or promote gambling games within the state as stipulated in other parts of the Utah gambling laws. Every so often, Utah police conduct raids on illegal poker games, but they target commercially run tables that are intended to make a profit. In most cases, there are additional crimes, like money laundering or drug dealing, being committed, and the gambling-related charges are tacked on as extras. As long as you play online privately at home – without advertising for, promoting, financing, or enticing others to join a site – your risk of getting into legal trouble is slim to none. In fact, a 2013 article in the Salt Lake City newspaper Deseret News reported, “Law enforcement spends little time breaking up home poker games or tracking down online bettors.”

Utah Gambling History

The discovery of dice crafted from animal bone and other related implements in caves inhabited by the native Promontory culture suggests that gambling was a widespread pastime around the Great Salt Lake in the 13th century. This might have been the high point of Utah gambling because the story in recent centuries has been one of moral disapproval and prohibition.

You see, the area now known as Utah was settled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormons) in 1847. This section of the continent wasn't even a part of the United States at that time, but the U.S. Army prevailed in the Mexican-American war a few years later, and the territory was annexed. The earlier inhabitants had been Native Americans, trappers, and fur traders, and it's pretty likely that they engaged in games of chance on occasion, but gambling came to a virtual halt with the arrival of Brigham Young and his band of religious-minded settlers.

Brigham Young
Brigham Young

The newcomers set up what they called the State of Deseret in 1849 although this body was not recognized by the United States or any other government. It existed for but a scant two years; yet Deseret still had enough time to pass an anti-gambling ordinance in 1951. It held that all types of gambling were disallowed, and property used for conducting the games as well as all winnings would be forfeit. An additional fine could be imposed at the discretion of the court. When the Territory of Utah was established, this law was carried over, along with most other laws of the State of Deseret, and it remained in full effect.

We can perhaps gain an appreciation for the feelings of these early Utah residents about gambling by examining Brigham Young's own words on the subject, spoken in 1866:

Let a judge decree that … a gambling saloon shall be established in our city, and we will give him the privilege to get out of the city as quickly as he can.

Due to this attitude, which was held by the majority of Mormons, Utah never went through a “Wild West” phase with saloons and gambling. The was a brief surge in gambling, prostitution and other vices when a silver rush began in the state in the 1860s, but after a few years, corporate interests took control, and the days of wild-living, individualistic miners were over. Utah became a state in 1896 and has maintained strict laws against all forms of gambling until the present day with just one exception. There was a brief experiment with pari-mutuel racetrack betting that started in 1925, but it aroused much opposition and was terminated in 1927.

Today, about 60% of the population of Utah belongs to the LDS church, and while many of them aren't actively practicing Mormons, the view of gambling among the public is mostly negative. There are no casinos, card rooms, bingo halls, racetrack betting facilities, or any other kind of gaming with real money at stake throughout Utah. Even charitable events featuring games of chance, which are usually permitted even in states that restrict most forms of gambling, are banned.

Wasatch Poker Tour Logo

As you can well imagine, creative businesspeople have sought loopholes around these regulations, and they have had a modicum of success. The Wasatch Poker Tour holds tournaments that pay out prizes, like cash and WSOP seats, but it doesn't charge buyins and entry fees. Area bars host the events and put up the money, hoping to recoup their costs through sales of food and drink. Other businesses provide free bingo games with the purchase of a meal. Because the bingo cards technically don't cost patrons any money (at least in the opinion of the organizers of the games), it's not gambling but rather a free promotion. The powers that be are suspicious of this line of reasoning, and there are frequent skirmishes between officials and entrepreneurs. Restrictions have been placed on these activities, such as the commandment that all “bingo” food purchases must be sold at the going market rates for the cuisine. Limits have been placed on the number of nights per week that such promos can be run. These forms of “quasi-gambling” are kind of lame, but they're the only legal options for live money gaming in the entire state of Utah – there isn't even a Utah lottery!

Will Online Poker Regulation Come to Utah?

Utah isn't the most crowded state in the Union, but then again, it's far from the least populous. Yet, the size of any potential legalized online poker market is miniscule because of the widespread aversion to gambling on the part of most Utahns. Anyway, the existing Utah online gambling laws make it extremely unlikely that we'll see any licensed internet poker open up in the state for a very long time. Speaking of laws, now's a fine moment to discuss 76-10-1102(4), which we skipped over in our overview of the Utah gambling statutes above:

If any federal law is enacted that 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.

That's right; Utah will automatically and preemptively opt out of any federal bill that might, in the future, perhaps maybe be passed that would permit online gambling. This is quite a remarkable piece of legislation. It's as though the government in Salt Lake City feels that the rest of the country would like nothing more than to trick the state, against its will, into authorizing online gambling, and therefore, this foresighted preventative measure is required. This statute is the nail in the coffin for any hope of a licensing arrangement to bring fully approved virtual card games to the Beehive State.

Final Thoughts

In spite of the tough restrictions against gambling enacted by the Utah State Legislature, online poker in Utah is no problem for individuals who want to head onto the internet and play the game they love. Crackdowns have come at the expense of those who maintain illegal gambling facilities within the state rather than people who quietly gamble by themselves without raising a ruckus. Join the Utah online poker site that looks best to you, and then try to run your bankroll up to baller status.

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

States Neighboring Utah

If you are lucky enough to have another address in a nearby state, be it your business address, summer home, second apartment, family home, etc, you may have other online poker options available to you. Here are a list of the states that border Utah and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming. If none of these particular states are relevant to your situation, then you might want to take a look through our detail-packed guide for U.S. online poker fans.

The topic of online poker is one that's unfortunately shrouded in ignorance for the bulk of our populace. If you know anyone, whether a family member or friend, who's fascinated by the game, then perhaps you could do them a kindness by sharing this page with them.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Even after reading our article about online poker in Utah, you may have unanswered questions. Look below for a roundup of some of the most common queries and their answers.

Is Global Poker running a legal Utah poker site?

The company says that its games are completely legal in Utah and the rest of the U.S.A. We don't really think this is true however. The intricacies of this debate are too lengthy to delve into here, but you can gain further enlightenment on this topic with our review of Global Poker.

 

Additional Resources

There's relatively little gambling going on in Utah, but you may nevertheless wish to consult these resources:

 


We strive to maintain this information and update it frequently with our research. However, we are not immune to making mistakes or omitting information that you, dear reader, may find of use. If you have any further questions not addressed in this guide or have noted any discrepancies or inaccuracies we urge you to contact us with your questions and concerns so that we may swiftly address them!