Utah's prosecutors and law enforcers say they are unified in cracking down on the rapidly growing popularity of poker and other forms of gambling.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard said police and prosecutors gathered together Thursday to make sure they are all on the same page. "We needed to figure out what prosecutors will support and what elements to bring to (them) for prosecution," he said.

Thursday, about a dozen law enforcers and prosecutors including Kennard, Salt Lake District Attorney David Yocom and Salt Lake City police Chief Rick Dinse stood side-by-side during a news conference to show their unified support on the issue.

Because of the recent media attention on the poker craze with games such as Texas Hold 'em, Kennard said it was necessary for law enforcers to develop a battle plan on how to deal with the issue.

Likewise, the statewide Association of Prosecutors of Utah adopted a resolution on a 12-0 vote Wednesday to diligently pursue gambling violations.

Dinse said law enforcement looks at the "three C's" when dealing with gambling issues: conspicuous, commercial and complaints. In Utah, all three standards are met, he said.

The poker problem has been out in the open, companies have attempted to set up tournaments in various cities and police have received complaints from residents.

Gambling is defined in Utah as risking something of value in an attempt to win something of value in a game of chance.

Kennard said the goal of law enforcers is to educate the public and businesses about what is legal and what is not to avoid potential future problems before they get out of hand.

Yocom said bar owners who engage in illegal gambling or those who set up illegal poker tournaments run the possibility of forfeiting their property.

Having gambling problems reported is important, Kennard said, because his office doesn't have the resources to dedicate investigators full time to the problem. Most problems will be addressed as they are discovered.

"We will be as tough as we have to be," Kennard said.

That's why educating the public is so important, he said.


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