Utah Bans Online Poker
Utah issued a ban on online poker and all forms of gambling activities within the state with a recent legislation signed by Gary Herbert, the governor of the state. At a time when various US states are attempting to legalize online gambling to meet tax deficit, Utah’s anti-gambling move is surprising.
The anti-gambling legislation in Utah, titled HB108, mentions that in case a federal law allowing online poker in the US but giving individual states an option to refrain from allowing online gambling is passed, Utah will opt for it.
If any member of the state is found violating the legislation, he will be subject to a fine of $1,000. In addition, the person will also have to serve in jail for 6 months. A few legislators inUtahwanted to make the offense a felony. However, legislators were convinced not to do so by lobbying groups like Poker Players Alliance.
Anti-Gambling Proposal Introduced in January
The anti-gambling bill was passed in Utahearlier this year, after a proposal was introduced by a state representative, Stephen Sandstrom. A bill was drafted by Sandstrom after an announcement from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) stating that the Wire Act is not applicable for any other form of gambling apart from sports betting. The change in the DOJ’s opinion persuaded quite a few states such as California and Iowa to adopt online gambling regulations. However,Utah turned out to be an exception.
In a recently released statement, Sandstrom mentioned that legalizing online gambling will cause a lot of negative responses from the state. Utah government aims at keeping the state away from such consequences. Critics of online gambling believe that the DOJ’s change in opinion is a big blow to the moral foundation of the state.
Hawaii and Utah Stay Away from Legalizing Gambling
The only two US states which completely stayed away from legalizing online gambling activities are Utah and Hawaii. A key reason for Utah passing the anti-gambling bill is that approximately 60% members of the state are members of the Mormon Church, also referred to as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is against all forms of gambling.
Hawaii May not Pass a Bill like Utah
Although, Hawaii stayed away from online gambling all this while, it is not likely to pass an anti gambling bill like Utah. Since the time Hawaii achieved the status of a state, a large number of gambling proposals have been introduced. The most recent attempt made in this regard was in January, which failed to get legislative support.
Other States too Fail to Pass Online Poker Legislations
Apart from Hawaii, quite a few other states such as Mississippi and Iowa have also been unsuccessful in passing legislation in favor of internet gambling. However, there are US states which are actively pushing for online gambling legalization. California and New Jersey are two states which recently adopted online poker bills. The proposal to regulate online poker is on hold for a few weeks inNew Jersey. However,Californialawmakers are focusing on budget issues in the state.
Nevada is the only and the first US state to have set the stage for legalized online poker till date. Regulations for online poker were passed in Nevada in December 2011. Quite a few well-known gambling firms such as 888Poker and William Hill Poker have applied for a license to offer online poker inNevada. Government officials made rules for inspecting online poker rooms which already received licensing approvals. If all goes smoothly, licensed poker websites in the state can start operating from mid 2012.