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Sean D. Reyes
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Utah AGO Joins Sen. Karen Mayne to Announce Legislation Combating Fringe Gambling

February 27, 2020

This morning, the Utah Attorney General’s Office joined with Senator Karen Mayne to announce legislation aimed at closing loopholes that allow illegal gambling operation to skirt the law in communities across Utah.

Listen to the audio below:

“What we are talking about has been a cancer in our community. They have been here before and we have fought them before. This is a national problem as well as a state problem,” said Senator Mayne.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office has dealt with these problem machines for years. The individuals and companies operating these machines are doing so with no oversight and no regard to the impact they have on the communities around them. As such, they operate as disguised gambling machines, where gambling is illegal in Utah. Additionally, these machines often target lower-income individuals as they are placed in minimarts, laundromats, beauty salons, and even near schools.

These machines have been problematic for state and local governments. When these machines are installed, they are done so without working to comply with local business ordinances. Despite these machines bringing in thousands of dollars every month, they do not pay sales tax since they aren’t registered as a business.

This legislation will:

  • Close the loopholes and protect our community;
  • Clarify which types of machines are legal;
  • Strengthen and build upon existing laws regarding fringe gambling machines;
  • Prohibit the operation, or placing into operation, a fringe gambling machine;
  • Increase criminal penalties to owners, not users, of the machines for those guilty of gambling offense;
  • Allow double damages for money lost against the operator or location owner of the machine for money lost; and
  • Focuses on machines that take and distribute money. The bill does not modify existing laws that apply to bingo, valid promotional activities, or other activities not involving a machine.

“This is something we need to fight together because these are a detriment to our communities,” said Senator Mayne.

AGO Executes Search Warrants in Major Statewide Gambling-Device Enterprise

SALT LAKE CITY March 2, 2017 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced today that AGO investigators, in a joint operation with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, executed warrants to seize evidence of an alleged statewide enterprise related to illegal gambling machines. The operation identified over an estimated 500 machines or more at over 130 locations across the state.  Tips about illegal gambling devices were reported by citizens to legislators, Utah Senator Curt Bramble, Utah Representative Justin Fawson, and Utah Representative Norm Thurston, as well as from other sources. The investigation is ongoing.

“The Attorney General’s Office has focused its operation today on a large number of gambling devices that we allege are illegal under Utah statute,” said Utah Attorney General’s Office Investigations Chief Leo Lucey. “Because these devices are out in the open and are available to anyone, they present an especially dangerous threat to youth.”

“I appreciate the Attorney General’s office and the work they’ve done to address concerns that local law enforcement agencies brought to the attention of Representative Thurston and myself,” said Rep. Justin Fawson, District 7. “This was a coordinated effort between local law enforcement and the Attorney General’s office that resulted in bringing down an enterprise that was attempting to skirt the Utah gambling laws.”

“A question was raised whether coin pushers in local convenience stores were legal,” said Rep. Norm Thurston, District 64. “After learning the about the problems these machines create, it was made clear that statewide approach would be necessary to address this issue. Rep. Fawson and I appreciate the cooperation, hard work and response of the Attorney General’s office, investigators and agencies across the state to help resolve this issue.”

Utah law requires prosecutors and law enforcement to prosecute illegal gambling in Utah where ever it may be found. The Utah AGO takes this legislative mandate seriously and appreciates all of the various law enforcement agencies who have collaborated in this case. 

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