There have been a variety of reactions to the idea of regulating online poker in the United States. Some representatives have come out strongly in favor of regulating it at the federal level, while others have shown concerns about the potential for negative consequences of expanded gambling. But few have had as strongly negative a reaction as Gary Herbert, governor of the state of Utah.Utah is known for being one of the most conservative states in the USA, particularly when it comes to vices like gambling. This is due in large part to the state’s significant Mormon population, as the church has a longstanding prohibition on gambling. Even today, Utah is one of just two states with no legalized gambling – not even a state-run lottery.While efforts to regulate online poker at the federal level seem to be at a standstill, that hasn’t stopped Utah from taking some rather extraordinary steps to prevent the game from ever reaching the state. Earlier this year, a bill was passed there that made it illegal to gamble on the internet, and preemptively removed Utah from any online poker network that might be set up by the federal government.However, that didn’t stop Governor Herbert from taking the added measure of writing a letter to Congress. In the letter, he asks both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to oppose any bill that would legalize online gambling.“Gaming issues traditionally have been regulated by state government,” the letter says. “The recent U.S. Department of Justice ruling clarifies and reaffirms that this is a matter of state authority.”Herbert goes on to say that if he federal government were to legalize online poker nationwide, it would encroach on Utah’s state rights.“If Congress were to make [online gambling] legal, it would be against the wishes of the majority of Utahns and encroach on our 10th Amendment rights,” he added.On the latter issue, though, it would see that Herbert has little to worry about. Every proposal to regulate online poker in the United States at the federal level that has received serious consideration has included an opt-out provision that would allow states like Utah to stay out of the online gaming landscape if they prefer to do so.
Utah Anti-Poker Letter to Congress
Utah Anti-Poker Letter to Congress April 13, 2012