Lawmakers in Utah have just shown that they can actually take decisions within a reasonable time span, negating the argument that they require months and months to draw a conclusion. In the last week of February, Senate minority leader Karen Mayne introduced a bill aimed at further clarifying some facets of gambling, especially what is referred to as “fringe gambling.” Now, less than three weeks after the bill first showed itself, both the Utah House and the Senate have given their approval.
Fringe gambling is used to describe gaming machines that are advertised as “just for entertainment purposes,” but which at their root are actually gambling machines. They were found in the state, and there was no law banning their use, given Utah’s stringent anti-gambling rules. It was here that Senate Bill 214 (SB 214) came in and tried to close the gaming machine operators ‘ abused loopholes.
SB 214 specifically distinguishes between what is called a legal computer or an illegitimate one. This also describes fringe gambling, and imposes higher punishments for those possessing or running the machines. Users who lose money will also demand double what they put in as a refund.
She didn’t hold back her thoughts on the issue of gaming machines when Mayne introduced her bill last month. She said to the press: “It’s a cancer that needs to be out of the state of Utah. If they want this kind of practice, it needs to be elsewhere because it’s bringing down all our communities, and bringing drug use, more violence, all those kinds of things. These are slot machines that are in mini-marts, laundromats, beauty salons, and they’re more aggressive every single day.”
The bill received broad support in both the House and the Senate, partially because proponents believed the devices are frequently located in the same locations as drugs, pornography and other types of illegal activity. The passing of the legislation therefore allows the state to kill two birds with one stone. The next, and final, stop for the bill is the desk of Governor Gary Herbert.
On Wednesday SB214 sailed through the House on before being presented Thursday to the Senate. Along the way, no roadblocks were met, although a small number of legislators voted against the bill, and its swift passage shows that politicians can get things done easily and effectively when they set their minds to it, and when there is proper motivation. The last day of the legislative session was yesterday and legislators decided to clear their desks as much as possible before their departure.