Utah Gov. Pens Letter Against Federal Web Poker Bill
Online Gaming Protest Sent to Harry Reid and John Boehner
The governor of Utah has sent a letter to two of the most powerful members of Congress to insist that online gaming not be legalized nationwide.
Card Player received a copy of the letter dated April 4, 2012.
Dear Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid:
I am writing to ask you to oppose current proposals to federalize internet poker and casino gambling. Gaming issues traditionally have been regulated by state governments. It is a matter of both constitutional and social preference that matters relating to gaming be regulated by states for the benefit of their residents. The recent U.S. Department of Justice ruling clarifies and reaffirms that this is a matter of state authority.
Specifically, the residents of the State of Utah have always been very clear about our views that allowing gambling on the internet or other venues is not in Utah’s best interests. In the case of interstate online poker, if Congress were to make it legal, it would be against the wishes of the majority of Utahns and encroach on our 10th Amendment rights, as well as our historical and long-standing position against gaming and wagering. Indeed, the people of Utah included a prohibition on gambling in Article VI, Section 27 of the Utah Constitution. Federal legislation and regulation in this area must be resisted.
I appreciate your careful and positive consideration of our reviews on this very important issue.
Gary R. Herbert
Governor of Utah
Utah’s anti-gambling position
Utah and Hawaii are the only two jurisdictions in the country without legalized gambling of any kind. However, Hawaii attempted to legalize both live and online play earlier this year.
The Beehive State quickly passed a law this spring that criminalizes card playing in cyberspace, as well as preemptively bans the activity should the U.S. Congress legalize.
The plan was underway shortly after the Department of Justice clarified the Wire Act in December 2011 — a decision that effectively made the statute an inadequate tool in stopping intrastate wagering on the web.
Utah lawmaker Stephen Sandstrom reacted quickly, announcing a few days before 2012 that he would draft a proposal to thwart what he labeled a “desperate attempt” to help the economy by some in the U.S. government. He also called the developments “another major crack in America’s moral foundation.”
However, Utah might not have much to worry about from Capitol Hill.
Efforts in Washington, D.C. have been at a standstill for quite some time, as the issue has stirred up some fiery debates in both House and Senate hearings. Gov. Herbert’s letter went to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who has been unsuccessful so far in legalizing web gaming.
Some in the industry are pessimistic about a federal bill ever coming to fruition, which would instead leave online poker up to a state-by-state patchwork. Nevada, with regulations adopted and licensing on the horizon, is at the helm of this intrastate initiative that also includes California, New Jersey and Delaware.
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