Should gambling keep on track in Utah?

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Should gambling keep on track in Utah? In view of this, the Senate said, do not bet on it moving closer to the loophole. The Senators voted 21-1 to pass SB225, sending it to the House for deliberation.

In relation, Weiler, R-Woods Cross, stated that many gas stations and convenience stores in Utah offer what is similar to slot machines — where people put in money, push a button, anticipating that spinning symbols would match for cash jackpots, just like Las Vegas machines.

While Utah outlaws risking anything of value for an uncertain return — “any game of chance” — he said these games slip through a loophole in the law. Apart from offering a chance at a jackpot, for every dollar deposited they also issue a $1 gift card that may be used for merchandise at one website.

So, in theory, players are not risking money but getting at least dollar-for-dollar value. But Weiler stated that constituents complain it is difficult, if not impossible, to redeem the gift cards.

“I have talked to several people who have seen these devices and said, ’How can these possibly be legal, and why would the Utah Legislature allow this type of business activity to be conducted?” Weiler said.

SB225 “adopts California’s definition of gambling, which would … make it clear that these types of gas station slot machines are not allowed in Utah,” Weiler said.

It would ban “fringe gaming devices,” which it defines as providing a user with “a card, credit or product,” while also providing “the opportunity to participate in a contest, game, gaming scheme, or sweepstakes with a potential monetary return or outcome based on an element of chance.”

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, questioned the need for the legislation.

“Is this really a big issue?”

Weiler said, “It’s a big issue to my constituents. That’s why I’m running the bill.”

Dabakis then asked, “If we’re willing to follow California in gambling, why not Medicaid expansion?”