Is there a lottery in Utah?
Utah is one of five (5) US states without a state lottery. Of these, Utah is one of two states with no form of legal gambling at all. (Hawaii is the other.) In fact, all games of chance — including but not limited to lotteries — are illegal in Utah.
Why Utah doesn’t have a state lottery
The Utah state constitution explicitly forbids the state legislature from starting or authorizing lotteries. Article VI, Section 27 of Utah’s constitution specifically states, “The Legislature shall not authorize any game of chance, lottery or gift enterprise under any pretense or for any purpose.”
Can you buy lottery tickets in Utah?
Unfortunately, you can’t. Utah’s laws don’t just forbid the creation of a state lottery. Under state laws, the act of gambling (or any related actions, such as selling a ticket) is a criminal offense. Gambling is defined as staking any item of value on the results of a game of chance.
Any person who “solicits, requests, commands, encourages, or intentionally aids another person to engage in” gambling can be held criminally liable in Utah courts. Likewise, anybody who engages in gambling can also be charged with a crime.
What’s interesting is that these laws apply to any apparent participation in games of chance within Utah, even if the game itself is held outside the state. For example, if you buy Idaho lottery tickets within Utah state lines, you could still face gambling violation charges. (The person selling those tickets would be liable, too!)
How can people in Utah play lottery?
To get around this problem, many Utah residents go to neighboring states like Idaho or Wyoming to buy lottery tickets.
In 2018, at the height of the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpot madness, Utah residents flocked to border towns like Franklin, Idaho to buy tickets. In fact, a convenience store in Franklin called La Tienda actually dubbed itself the “home of the Utah Lottery.” Another store, KJ’s Kwik Stop in Malad, Idaho, reported a similar jump in the number of Utah-based customers. The store stands several miles from the Utah border.
If you're a Utah resident, you might also consider going to an area (e.g., Canada) where online lottery is allowed. Then you could register for online lottery agents like theLotter and play through these services.
Can you win the lottery if you live in Utah?
Yes, you can. It’s still legal for Utah residents to buy lottery tickets in neighboring states, after all.
Here’s the catch, though: you’ll likely have to pay state taxes for both Utah and the state where you bought the ticket. That’s on top of federal income taxes, which already entail around 24% of the total prize money.
Is online gambling allowed in Utah?
No. The legal provisions that penalize any participation in gambling cover online activities, too. Utah state law doesn’t make distinctions between different channels or means of playing games of chance. Consequently, buying tickets online won’t exempt you from the ban against gambling within the state.
Does Utah have scratch tickets?
No. Scratch tickets fall under the broad definition of gambling in Utah’s constitution, so the Utah government can’t run scratch-off games either.
Will Utah ever get the lottery?
That remains to be seen.
There’s certainly interest in lottery games among Utah residents, as the Utah license plates in Idaho convenience store parking lots can tell you. Some state legislators are also pushing for a people’s initiative to legalize lotteries.
State Senator Jim Dabakis (D-Salt Lake), speaking to KUTV in October 2018, said, “This is a voluntary tax. People want to pay it. They are waiting in line to pay it.”
Citing the millions of earnings reported by neighboring states’ lottery commissions, Dabakis further asked, “Why give the money to Idaho and Wyoming? We are missing out.”
Yet there remains strong resistance to the creation of a state lottery. Even Dabakis himself, in the same interview, noted that amending the Utah constitution to allow lotteries would be unlikely. Any changes to state lottery policies, claimed the legislator, would have to come through residents’ initiative.
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