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Lawmaker drafting bill to tighten rules on illegal gambling machines in Utah

(Machines seized during statewide sting. Credit: KSL TV, fiel)

UTAH STATE CAPITOL – A West Valley lawmaker says illegal gambling machine manufacturers are trying to sneak their way back into Utah.  She’s drafting a bill that would go farther in keeping them out.

Three years ago, there was a statewide crackdown on coin pusher and slot machines.  Since then, Senator Karen Mayne says the makers of these devices are claiming they found a “kink” in the law and they’re telling her the rules don’t apply to their devices.

She says, “They say, ‘It doesn’t cover us.  It covers everybody else…’ mumbo jumbo, whatever.”

The machines don’t necessarily work exactly like you’d see in a Las Vegas casino.  Mayne says a player may get prizes along with money, or they’d have to log onto a website to claim their winnings.  However, no matter how they operate, Mayne says gambling is illegal in Utah.  She believes the manufacturers know this, which is why they put them in smaller mini-marts.

“They put them in these little marketplaces in these back rooms.  Why are they there?  Why aren’t they in 7-11’s?  Why aren’t they in Maverik?” she asks.

Mayne is still in the process of drafting the bill, saying attorneys are combing over current law to find the “kink’ the manufacturers are referring to.

“You can’t use fancy lawyers and fancy lobbyists to come out and persuade us for something that’s not healthy for our communities,” she says.  “If this opens up. You’re going to have them in every little mini-mart.”