Though gambling is a dirty business, it's also a big business. So big, in fact, is it that eight of every 10 Americans are said to participate in gambling to some extent.

Sadly, Utah is not exempt from this problem even though gambling is against the law and can be punished by a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail. As a Deseret News article noted the other day, sports gambling operating on the fringes of society keeps attracting many thousands of gullible Utahns even though the odds always favor the bookies and the bookies are crooked.While gamblers often think of gaming as harmless, they're just fooling themselves. Plenty of studies have shown that gambling attracts organized crime - and with organized crime come violence and corruption.

Besides adding to the cost of law enforcement, gambling also adds to the welfare burden because it hurts the most those who can afford it the least - namely, the poor.

Eventually, gambling can for some people become a compulsion in which the addict loses interest in everything else, risks more than he or she can afford to lose, and cannot stop. In such cases, the end results include lost jobs, broken homes, ruined lives, and even suicide.

Though gambling is hard for law enforcement officers to fight, the social and economic costs of ignoring this crime are far too steep. Utah officers should be encouraged to keep after gambling wherever it is found.