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Sports betting is now on the table nationally, but probably not in Utah

In this March 15, 2018 photo, people watch coverage of the first round of the NCAA college basketball tournament at the Westgate Superbook sports book in Las Vegas. The Supreme Court has struck down a federal law that bars gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states, giving states the go-ahead to legalize betting on sports. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down a federal law against betting on sports in most of the nation, opening the door for states to legalize gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other competitions.

But don’t expect anything to change in Utah, one of two states that currently boasts of outlawing all forms of gambling.

“Utah has a long history of deciding that they don’t want gambling,” said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. “I can’t say what will happen 20 years from now, but I don’t see that changing soon.”

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling to strike down the 1992 lawsuit was met with delight from lawmakers in New Jersey and elsewhere, who hope to grab a slice of the $150-billion industry.

“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.”

Already, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has vowed to introduce legislation in response to the ruling.

The Utah Legislature, meanwhile, has shown time and time again an unwillingness to allow gambling in the state.

Lawmakers rejected an attempt to create a lottery here in the 1980s and has voted down pari-mutuel betting. In March, Weiler even attempted to close a loophole that has allowed businesses to have slot-machine like games that offer jackpots while also providing a dollar-for-dollar gift card to be used for merchandise at a website because the gift cards were reportedly too difficult to redeem. The bill likely would have passed, Weiler said, if lawmakers had not run out of time on the final day of the session.

“Utah has historically said we don’t want gambling here,” Weiler said.

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