SALT LAKE CITY -- Rep. Stephen Sandstrom's effort to make sure Internet gambling is banned in the state has been put on hold.
The House Law Enforcement Committee chose to hold off any action on the bill to allow for its fiscal impact to be determined and to get a full understanding of how the bill could impact the Internet service providing industry.
Sandstrom, R-Orem, argued his bill, which would require Internet service providers in Utah to block online gambling websites, is worth any cost that might come to the state.
"There is a lot more at risk to the state than the potential cost," Sandstrom told the committee. "To me I think it really, quite frankly, doesn't matter, 'cause it will cost the state tens of millions of dollars if they do not go with this."
Sandstrom had support from many members of the committee for the intent of his bill, but the committee felt it was important to get the full information on the bill prior to passing it on to the House floor.
"We need to have this information prior to voting on this bill," Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City, said.
Arent noted she also would like to hear from Internet service providers in the state to know how this bill would impact them; no representatives from the providers were in the committee meeting.
Sandstrom stated that one of his main efforts in making sure the ban on Internet gaming is in place is to prevent Indian-owned casinos from popping up in Utah. He said if Congress approves nationwide online gambling and Utah does not have a ban in place that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act could provide a window for casinos on Indian land to be opened in Utah.
"If we allow Internet gaming in Utah, we will have casinos," Sandstrom said.
Sandstrom's bill is aimed at pre-empting a bill being discussed in Congress that would allow Internet gambling throughout the nation unless there is a law on a state's books that already bans Internet gaming. The bill being considered in D.C., HR 1174, was assigned to a committee last June, but has not had a hearing since then.
Sandstrom hopes to have his bill reconsidered by the committee later this week.
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