The state of Utah, well known for its unequivocally negative approach to online gambling, is to consider even wider reaching laws to close legislative loopholes that permit Internet entrepreneurs to offer virtual gambling.
Loosely termed "fringe gambling", the most common ploy is to offer would-be punters a prepaid computer card, typically in an Internet cafe, which is placed in the machine and enables the gambling games to be accessed. But
state Senator Dan Liljenquist, a Republican, claims: "The trouble is that card has already predetermined whether or not they are going to win when they come in the door. So it's effectually (sic) a lottery ticket."
Liljenquist is sponsoring a bill to make it easier for law enforcement to clamp down on such establishments that are popping up in Utah, and he is supported by another Republican, Committee Chair Senator Chris Buttars, who says: "This is just called Gambling. The statute here escaped that. Now we extended that, and we put our arms around that fringe gambling element. Now it is illegal and it is gambling in Utah."
Buttars says Salt Lake County's two recent gambling busts are perfect examples of fringe gambling. Last week the Smoke Shop and Internet in South Salt Lake City was busted for Internet gambling, following an earlier raid on the Mouse Pad Internet Café – the target for a second time of police activity.
The Senator claims that when customers can go into an establishment, buy a phone card or an Internet card, and then use the credits on those cards to play games of chance, it is illegal.
"It's just someone has figured out how to skirt the law. There are always those kinds of people, and this closes that gap," Buttars said.
Liljenquist says that by updating the Utah gambling laws, establishments that seek to circumvent the anti-gambling spirit of state laws would fall under a misdemeanor. It appears that his fellow politicians agree with him – the State Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously in favour of Senate Bill 169, and it is expected to pass both the Senate and House without hindrance.
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