The Utah Senate has passed House Bill 108 which prohibits internet gambling on computers and handheld devices. The bill was introduced by Republican Stephen Sandstrom earlier in the year into the House of Representatives, who has been quoted as saying, “We want to keep Utah free from the negative impacts of legalised gambling.”
The measure passed in the Senate by a vote of 25-2. A new clause added stating that internet service providers will not be criminalized by the law forces the bill to go back to the House of Representatives for a final vote before it can be signed into law by Republican Governor Gary Herbert.
This of course sounds like very negative news for online poker enthusiasts, but it’s important to make the distinction that Utah has always banned gambling in any form since officially becoming a state in 1896. That is to say, the new bill would simply be re-inforcing their already existing policy of outlawing “games of chance.” This is of course in contrast to states like Nevada with their historically pro-gambling stance. Many feel that a state like Nevada would be hypocritical in allowing gambling in brick-and-mortar casinos, but dragging their feet in finally passing online gambling legislation – something that many hope will change in the near future.
The prevention of Indian casinos opening within state borders is another concern that Utah legislators are seeking to address. Sandstrom said, “Without courageous leadership to block Internet gaming, Utah could see Indian casinos popping up statewide in just a few years. Utah is only one of two states that prohibit any form of gambling, Hawaii being the other. Unfortunately, this could change soon because Hawaii is currently considering legalising gaming leaving Utah to fight the principled fight against legalised gambling on its own.”