Gary Herbert, the Governor of Utah, recently sent an open letter to the leaders in Congress, asking that they stand firm against the legalization of online poker. This move comes just weeks after Herbert signed his name to a bill which formally outlaws internet gambling within his state. This measure also allows Utah to preemptively opt out of any potential federal legalization of the practice.
“Gambling issues traditionally have been regulated by state governments,” read one passage from Herbert’s letter. “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 US Department of Justice ruling clarifies and reaffirms that this is a matter of state authority.”
Addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the letter illuminates the fierce anti-gambling views in Utah. Herbert, a Republican himself, has received considerable support from all corners of the state.
“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,” he continues. “In the case of inter-state online poker, if Congress were to make it legal, it would be against the wishes of the majority of Utahns and encroach on our Tenth Amendment rights as well as our historical and long-standing position against gaming and wagering… Federal legislation and regulation in this area must be resisted.”
Strong words, to be sure. At present, Utah is one of only two states in which all forms of gambling are prohibited (Hawaii being the other).