Senator Mayne Announces Legislation Addressing Illegal Gambling Operations
SALT LAKE CITY – On Thursday morning, Utah State Senator Karen Mayne (D-West Valley) announced legislation aimed at closing loopholes that allow illegal gambling operations to skirt the law in communities across our state. All along the Wasatch Front, gambling machines have been set up in places such as convenience stores, laundromats, and beauty salons. The owners of these machines frequently target minority-owned businesses by convincing them they are legal, endangering their businesses and livelihoods. These operations also target low-income and working class communities, preying on families least able to afford it. “This erodes civility, it erodes our communities, and it takes advantage of those who shouldn’t be taken advantage of,” Senator Mayne stated.
Because the State of Utah outlaws any gambling activity, there are no gambling regulations set in place, therefore it is increasingly difficult to control where they are placed and how much money can be gambled at one point. James Russell from the Utah Attorney General’s Office explained, “It is such a lucrative business that they have attorneys willing to fight and litigate these issues for years.” He continued, “They are doing this with no regard of the impact on the communities in which they are placing these machines. They are placing them where there are people who are least advantaged.” This bill defines what is legal, and if it is not one of those things, then it is fringe gambling. The bill also includes language to deal with intent and the impact these machines have.
Senator Mayne was joined by representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, law enforcement, and representatives from Kearns, Orem, and Layton City. Speaking in favor of the legislation, Layton City Mayor Scott Freitag stated, “Layton City is very strongly opposed to this type of gambling and strongly supports this bill in favor of restricting these practices.”
Senator Mayne concluded, “We hope that everyone will spread the word in their communities because it brings damaging results to these neighborhoods. If we don’t fight the battle, they have a lot of money and a lot of time.”