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Utah Senator Goes After Sweepstakes Kiosks Once Again, Clears Gambling Law Loophole

Utah State has always been among few states avidly opposing gambling, prohibiting all sorts of gaming within its borders. However, in the past years more and more discussions raise the awareness that sweepstakes games available at gas stations throughout the state very much resemble slot devices and their general impact on players. Senator Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross has once again commenced efforts against their operation.

This Wednesday saw several amendments introduced to the field with the help of SB 0225 introduced by Sen. Weiler himself. The bill aims to expand previously established legal definition of gambling. It takes after California’s currently existing regulation language.

With its help, the term “fringe gaming device” is now introduced and recognized as directly breaching the existing set of rules. In addition to that, the bill also adds sweepstakes to the long list of gaming activities considered an offense. Chief Sponsor of the bill is Todd Weiler whereas the House Sponsor is Craig Hall.

Gambling is Not Welcome in Utah

The Judiciary Interim Committee thoroughly reviewed the proposed bill and gave its unanimous nod. Senator Weiler pointed out the obvious resemblance between sweepstakes available at many gas stations and slot machines featuring cash payouts. This particular choice location provides a constant flow of individuals willing to give their luck a try and therefore a raging popularity of the seemingly harmless offering.

Continuous efforts towards raising the awareness of triggers such sweepstakes feature have been prompted by a recent encounter of Senator Weiler. An individual from North Salt Lake managed to burn through his entire paycheck at one of those kiosks soon after getting paid. This ended up being devastating to the family budget. According to the lawmaker, inability to pay one’s rent because of a seemingly harmless entertaining pastime should not occur within the safe environment of Utah.

Some of the gaming settings of those machines could make them gambling-like, but they could also be programmed in a way that makes their operation legal. Regulations on a state level have been in need of an update so that they could reflect the new offerings introduced and maintain state residents protected from the negative impact of gambling.

Community Voices Opinion

Members of the community directly affected by the new bill have expressed their thoughts in the social media pointing out that each individual has the capacity to make a choice whether or not to participate in gaming activities. Their legalization could stop them from flocking to neighboring states and supporting their economy by gambling in a legal manner.

Many people went even further by expressing their opinion that a lottery could improve the overall situation in Utah. It could bring a breath of fresh air to the field that prohibits all games in which the element of chance is involved.

This is not the first time an effort has been made by Sen. Weiler, as this spring he made an attempt to provide a clear definition and put an end to fringe gambling operation. The same bill was supported by a 21-1 vote but unfortunately, did not receive the needed support in a timely manner. Now a second chance has been given, this time hopefully making actual changes.

 Author: Hannah Wallace

Hannah Wallace has been part of our team since the website was launched. She has a master’s degree in IT.