Utah A.G. and PPA talk

The state of Utah's outspoken Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff, was again in the news this week following his words of support in a local radio interview for Congressman Barney Frank's efforts to regulate and licence online gambling (see previous InfoPowa report).

This time, Utah's top lawman discussed the issue with the Poker Players Alliance, reports the Salt Lake City Tribune, which revealed that Shurtleff is in favour of strictly regulated Internet gambling, as long as it doesn't lead to tribal casinos or other forms of gambling in Utah.

"It is going to happen anyway, let's put some regulation in place," the newpaper quotes Shurtleff.

Shurtleff apparently heard a pitch from the Poker Players Alliance during the spring meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C. The Alliance is supporting Congressman Frank's attempts to create a regulatory framework for online gaming, which include protections against underage gambling, compulsive gambling, money laundering and cheating. The bill, which is awaiting a hearing in the House, would counteract the controversial and imprecise Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, a 2006 bill that prohibits U.S. financial institutions from handling payments to gaming sites.

"Even though we outlawed it [online gambling] for two years now, it is still going on and it is highly unregulated, so you've got unscrupulous people rigging the system. People are getting ripped off," Shurtleff said.

Utah is one of only two states that outlaws any form of gambling and under Indian gaming laws, if a state allows one form of gambling, it can't prevent tribes from starting their own casinos and other gaming establishments.

Shurtleff asked the poker alliance to consider a change to the legislation that would allow Utah to continue to block tribal casinos, but that may be difficult.

John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, said he didn't want this proposal to "upset the balance struck in the Indian Gaming Regulations Act," the law that governs gaming on reservations. But he also said: "Our goal is not to bring brick and mortar casinos to Utah."

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