Utah bans online poker opts-out of federal legislation

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Mar 25, 2012 Posted in Legal Poker News, US Poker News | No Comments »

In a preemptive strike against the possibility of a federal online poker bill the state of Utah has passed into law a bill that bans online poker in the state, as well as opting-out of any federal online poker legislation that could be passed in the future. Utah joins Washington State as the only two states in the US to have passed legislation banning online poker.

The Bill, titled HB108, was signed into law by Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) last week after passing the Utah House by an incredibly wide margin of 62-10, followed by a unanimous vote in the state senate. The highly conservative state with a large Mormon population was seen as a long-shot to ever offer online poker, but the ease with which the bill has to be a bit disconcerting to online poker proponents.

Utah also becomes the first state to include in their legislation a clause preemptively prohibiting the state from adopting federal online poker legislation if it’s possible, with the bill specifically stating: “If any federal law is enacted that authorizes internet gambling in the (country) and that federal law provides that individual states may opt out, this state shall opt out of internet gambling in the manner provided by federal law.”

Under the new Utah law it is a misdemeanor for Utah residents to play online poker. As bad as this sounds to potential online poker players in Utah (all 3 of them) it’s still better than earlier drafts of HB108 where lawmakers were trying to make playing online poker a felony! Imagine explaining to your cellmate that you are in prison for playing online poker!

Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas was quoted as saying, “We fought it. We worked with lobbyists there. Our state director got very involved. It’s not an ideal outcome but, given Utah’s history with gaming, it’s not a surprising outcome.”

Utah and Hawaii are the only two states in the Union that have no legal forms of gambling (including lotteries) but unlike Utah, Hawaii legislators have been trying to gain a foothold in the online poker market. Unfortunately attempts at bringing brick & mortar and online gaming to the Hawaiian Islands this year failed to gain any traction and were officially left for dead last week.

Utah’s large Mormon population (Mormons are fervently opposed to gambling in any form) was unlikely to ever be in play for online gaming unless they were pulled in kicking and screaming, which Utah lawmakers all but guaranteed wouldn’t happen with their latest bill, HB108.

Washington State was the first state in the US to outlaw online poker back in 2010, and with a number of states pushing for legalizing and regulating online gaming it seems the battle lines are starting to be drawn across the country.

PokerNewsBoy.com will keep our readers posted on the all the latest online gaming developments from the US and around the world.

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