Dozens of warrants served at Utah businesses in illegal gambling investigation

Posted at 3:32 PM, Mar 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 18:14:32-05

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 150 warrants are being served this week as part of an investigation by the Utah Attorney General's Office regarding illegal gambling at Utah businesses.

"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," said Leo Lucey, Chief Investigator, Utah Attorney General's Office.

Lucey told FOX 13 the operation has been in the works since last summer after three state legislators informed the Attorney General's Office of complaints from constituents about suspected illegal gambling machines in their communities.

After consulting with prosecutors and reviewing current Utah gaming statutes, investigators decided there was enough probable cause for a criminal investigation. A special task force was established and agents began looking into the allegations, leading to the dozens of search warrants, which agents began serving Wednesday.

"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," Lucey said.

According to Lucey, an estimated $12 million to $24 million flowed through approximately 600 machines throughout the state over a 12 month period. Since Wednesday, Lucey said, about $200,000 in cash and coins has been seized.

No arrests have been made, but the alleged operators of those machines could face multiple felony charges, Lucey said.

In response to the investigation, the owners and management of Intermountain Vending released the following statement:

“Wednesday's action by the Utah Attorney General’s office was unwarranted and disappointing. First, Intermountain Vending maintains a business address that is open and easily located.  It has a telephone line and number and that office phone number is on each of our game kiosks. We accept and respond to telephone calls. If the AG’s office had issues with our devices or our company we would have been more than happy to meet, provide whatever information was requested, and attempt to address any concerns or issues as we have many times before in various locations.

“Second, our kiosks function has been thoroughly tested and we believe they meet all the requirements of Utah law.

“Now, instead of having a reasonable dialogue and working to resolve any perceived issues, Intermountain Vending will be forced into the unnecessary expense and inconvenience of dealing with this through the courts. Meanwhile, our merchant-customers will lose the benefits of increased foot traffic and retail sales which we provide them and their customers are denied the opportunity to purchase our products and enjoy the entertaining features of our kiosks.

“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.”