Whatever your opinion of Utah, you gotta admit that it’s unique. Utah is most commonly associated in the public consciousness with its Mormon population and, indeed, among the states, only Utah can claim a population in which Protestants are not a majority. The state’s famous salt flats are the only such in the U.S., while the Great Salt Lake is the largest saline lake in the Americas – and is unfortunately the country’s most methylmercury-saturated major body of water.
Betting in Utah
We’ll make this very simple: Ain’t no legal betting 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. 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 granted statehood in 1898, and Utah has been stalwart on its gambling stance ever since then. Whereas the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988 redefined gambling law for every state with a significant Native American population, this law registered nary a blip on the Utah sociopolitical landscape. Heck, even bingo and state lotteries are illegal in Utah in 2018, and the state 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.
Football in Utah
Since we’re talking about Utah, you know it’s coming back to the Mormons. Though the Brigham Young Cougars have been playing football since 1922, the team weren’t truly recognized as a proper program on the national level until the 1970s. The team received its first major bowl invitation – back when well fewer bowl games were played, kiddies – to the Fiesta Bowl in ’74, but only on the fifth try in ’80 did the Cougars earn a bowl-game victory.
Among college football followers, BYU became synonymous with high-flying, scoreboard-spinning play run by a string of outstanding quarterbacks: From 1975 to 1991, the Cougars started Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco and Ty Detmer. During this stretch, BYU took one national championship after an undefeated season (in 1994), finished in the top 10 four other times and enjoyed a 4-1 run in five consecutive Holiday Bowl appearances (1980-1984). Though the Cougars have not finished a season ranked in the top 20 since 2009, BYU still receives consideration as a major school thanks to this legacy.
The Utah Utes and Utah State Aggies meanwhile coexist in the shadows of BYU nationally, these teams’ “Battle of the Brothers” rivalry game is probably the highlight of the Utah football calendar; 2018 will see the *112th* meeting of the sides since their first match in 1892!
Salt Lake City has played host to a handful of indoor football teams such as the Blaze, Warriors, Rattlers and Catzz, but perhaps most notable was the one-year wonder known as the Indoor Football League’s Salt Lake Screaming Eagles. The 2017 Screaming Eagles were notable in not only receiving a mascot by fan vote, but also a location and a head coach. While one can certainly justify Salt Like City as a suitable home for an Indoor Football League team, how in the hell could the merely pretty good “Screaming Eagles” have beaten out “Stormin’ Mormons” and “Teamy McTeamface”, which were running no. 1 and 2, respectively, in the popular vote with three weeks to go before polling closed? NFLbets smells a conspiracy…
Betting on Football in Utah
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.
Nowadays members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, a.k.a. Mormons, make up 60% of the Utah population, and these folks still tend to believe gambling is a mortal sin. You can bet (so to speak) that Mormons make up a disproportionate majority of Utah’s state government and legislature, county commissions and city councils; the prospect of a state legislator introducing a bill to decriminalize gambling is preposterous.
For now – and likely throughout the 21st century – folks in Utah who’d like to bet on football will have to go online> Or, if so located, drive across the border to good old Nevada…