Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office began serving upwards of 150 warrants to Utah businesses on Wednesday as part of an investigation into illegal gambling.
Chief investigator for the State Attorney General’s Office, Leo Lucey, said, “They are running slot machines, coin pushers in businesses throughout the state of Utah and trying to skirt the law on technicalities and things we do not believe apply,” according to FOX 13 News.
Lucey reportedly told the news agency that plans for the operation began after concerns and complaints regarding the machines were raised by city and county governments.
Lucey told FOX 13 the operation has been in the works since last summer after the Attorney General’s Office was informed by three state legislators of complaints received from constituents regarding suspected illegal gambling machines operating within their communities. After prosecutors were consulted and Utah gaming statutes were reviewed, investigators decided enough probable cause existed to begin a criminal investigation. Agents in a special task force that was established began to examine the allegations, ultimately leading to the 150 or more search warrants. Agents from the task force began serving the warrants on Wednesday, according to the report.
Lucey reportedly said, “We have found tax, gambling declaration forms that this company is receiving from people based on their winnings – the same forms you would fill out if you won in Las Vegas, or Wendover or Mesquite – which does not tend to lead to the belief that anyone thought it was legal or above board.” He said that over a 12 month period, between $12 million and $24 million is estimated to have flowed through approximately 600 machines at 130 locations statewide. The chief investigator said the task force has seized approximately $$200, 000 in cash and coin since Wednesday.
Lucey said that while no arrests have been made, the alleged operators of the machines are looking at the possibility of facing multiple felony charges, according to the report.
In response to the Attorney General’s Office investigation, the owners and management of Intermountain Vending issued a statement that ended with “All in all, the Attorney General’s actions are disappointing and regrettable. However, we will remain ready to approach this in an interactive fashion if possible.”
Utah law prohibits nearly all gambling and casinos in the state and there is no lottery either. In 2012, Utah became the first state to opt out of any future potential federal Internet poker regulation when Gov. Gary Herbert signed an anti-online gambling bill (HB108) into law.