As arguably one of the most conservative states in the country, Utah tends to lead on anti-gambling measures. In March 2012 the state criminalized all forms of internet gambling. Given the broad definition of internet gambling used in the Utah Code – gambling as defined in Utah Code §76-10-1101, conducted via the Internet or electronic device – this prohibition almost certainly includes poker.
Amendments to Utah Code §§76-10-1101 and 76-10-1102, statutes concerning gambling, make it a misdemeanor for any person to engage in internet gambling within Utah. The amendments also require that Utah opt out of any future federal law enacted that authorizes internet gambling, if the federal law provides such an option.
Long story short – if you want to be able to play poker legally, live or online, don’t reside in Utah.
The Utah Constitution has a general prohibition against lotteries and games of chance at Article VI, Section 27. Implementation of that section is left to the Utah Code.
The definition of gambling under Utah Code §76-10-1101 resembles that found in many other states. It requires risking something of value in exchange for something of value upon a game or contest that is based upon an element of chance. This definition does not brook the classic “luck v. skill” debate; a mere element of chance suffices to make something gambling.
Given that broad definition, poker is likely gambling under Utah state law. Anyone who engages in gambling is guilty of a misdemeanor. This includes public gambling and private gambling. There is no “home game” exception under Utah state law.
Thus, there are no legal, state-regulated live poker games to be found in Utah, nor are home games permitted there. There also are no tribal casinos in Utah, making the Beehive State one of the few states in the country where it is impossible to buy into a lawful game of poker.