There are some state lawmakers in Utah who are concerned that the new administration may overturn the UIGEA and negotiate Internet gambling laws through the WTO without consulting the states on the issue.

"Talks for the next round are in limbo," Rep Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, said of World Trade Organization negotiations in 2009. "It's very important that states give input and get involved before agreements get signed by 153 countries."

So Allen is pitching House Joint Resolution 1, which calls for gambling to remain within the realm of states' rights -- and, as a result, would keep it illegal in all its forms in Utah.

The lucrative pastime -- barred by the Utah Constitution -- forces folks to head to Idaho for lottery tickets or nearby Nevada for casino games. But the advent of online gambling in the mid-1990s changed all that, at least for a time.

"Computers made it much easier to gamble" -- even from the comfort of one's Utah home, said Allen, who heads the Utah International Trade Commission, created in 2006 by HB39.

This November, commission members drafted HJR1 in hopes of persuading federal officials to favor domestic interests over international priorities and allow states to decide about gambling.

"Many see gambling as a moral issue," Allen said. "But I'm looking at it as a states' rights issue."

Utah and Hawaii are the only U.S. states with zero tolerance for gambling. Most states allow it with certain restrictions.
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