Utah game bill passes Senate, heads to governor

State's Truth in Advertising amendment passes both legislative bodies, gains three-strikes provision; poised to become law January 1.

Earlier this month, the Utah House of Representatives passed the controversial anti-gaming bill HB0353. The bill was crafted in part by notorious gaming activist and disbarred attorney Jack Thompson. It seeks to amend Utah's Truth in Advertising Act to punish businesses that sell age-rated media to audiences outside of the recommended age groups, but only if they do so against stated policies.

Now, after a round of amendments and Utah State Senate approval, the bill's fate is in the hands of Governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr., reports Game Politics. Governor Huntsman's options are to either sign the bill into law, veto it, or abstain from action, which would cause the bill to automatically become law beginning January 1, 2010.

The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the gaming-industry's political interests, was quick to condemn the Utah legislature's move.

"Essentially what it does it is has the unintended consequence of creating liability exposure which could force many retailers to either abandon their voluntary policies to enforce video game rating systems, or maybe perhaps choose not to sell video games at all," said Rich Taylor, ESA vice president of communications and industry affairs, to local Utah radio station KCPW.

"Here you have broadly drawn legislative language that seeks to address a fairly small instance of retailers failing to enforce their policies as promoted," he continued. "The vast, overwhelming majority of retailers are complying, but now they fall within this swinging sight of harm that this legislation introduces."

During its trip through the Senate, which overwhelmingly approved the measure 67-3 (with five senators absent or not voting), the bill gained a three-strikes provision. As per the amendment, so long as an employee undergoes training within his or her first month of working, a retailer could retrain the offending employee after an infraction and incur no penalty. However, if the employee sells an age-restricted product to a minor after the second infraction, the retailer would be liable for deceptive trading practices under HB0353.

Violators would be opening themselves up to lawsuits, which could entitle plaintiffs to damages or $2,000, whichever is deemed greater. The way the bill is written, it would apply not just to M for Mature games, but also to those rated T for Teen, as well as movies, TV shows, toys, and any other products for which the store pledges to adhere to an age recommendation.

Written By

Discussion

133 comments
zyxomma100
zyxomma100

I haven't read all the comments, but does anyone understand this article? The law won't punish retailers for selling games to underage children. It only punishes the retailers for SAYING that they don't sell these games to underage children, and then going around and doing it anyway. It's to stop the false advertising that comes with trying to create a "family friendly" experience. For example, every Gamestop has a sign by the counter somewhere saying that they will not sell M rated games to those under 18. Now in Utah, Gamestop can get in trouble for selling M rated games to children, but if Gamestop DROPS THAT POLICY they remove all liability and can sell any game to whoever they want. Basically, if a retailer flat out says, "We don't care who we sell GTA4 to," then they're in the clear.

subrosian
subrosian

@LooseChangepor Yes it will. This type of legislation has far reaching consequences, it always has. I have a simple belief - when you're 18, it's your right to choose what content you expose yourself to - if you want to watch sexual, violent, etc content - that's your choice. You're an adult, you vote, you pay taxes - and damnit you should have access to your full constitutional rights. - And yet guys like Jack Thompson don't want that. They won't outright say it - but their goal is to make so many censorship and other laws under the guise if "protecting children" that it becomes economically impossible for a store to carry so much as a playboy. The idea is simple - make it so any store carrying this content can be sued for so much as letting someone underage know that it exists - boom, now the stores won't carry it. - This type of law punishes ADULTS - it makes it so retailers are scared to carry videogames like Mass Effect - in turn it hurts the sales of these games, and forces publishers to cull adult content in games. And that's just wrong - because YOU have a right to that content, if the market wants that content, the market has a right to show its support with its dollars. - Jack Thompson and these other jerks are trying to say that YOU shouldn't be able to choose - even as as an ADULT. That's the dirty secret of these laws, they are designed to force Jack Thompson's moral views onto adults, by letting them sue stores under the guise of "protecting children".

subrosian
subrosian

The bible contains violence, sex, murder, rape, and incest and yet can be bought in any bookstore by anyone, regardless of age, because a large number of religious persons feel that it contains virtuous moral lessons. They (rightly) realize that if a family has a problem with the content of the bible, they should simply not allow it in their home. - Yet, the reverse respect is never given to other content. Books on evolution, so-called 'violent' videogames, or games with sexual content are barred outright, puntative legislation put in place, etc - on the grounds that children need to be "protected". Protected from what? Poor parenting? - Here's the grim truth - you're not protecting kids. Parents will just view this as another inconvenience - the moms who say "whatever, swipe my credit card, I'm in a hurry" don't care about the rating on the game - they don't care what their kid is exposed to, and none of this is going to change that. - All this type of legislation does is open up genuinely well-meaning retailers to frivilous lawsuits from jerks like Jack Thompson. They don't want this law on books to "protect children". They want this law on the books so that they can try and trick stores into selling an M-rated game to a 17 year old, and then sue. He wants these laws so he can scare the crap out of everyone until he can punish the gaming industry, because he personally hates videogames. - We're watching a legal vendetta by a bunch of old people who don't know anything about videogames - and anyone ANYONE who tries to justify that on the basis of "protecting children" has bought into their bull.

zombey1333
zombey1333

ROFL, "the kids that blow away their classmates." Are you serious? Most children who pull off that kind of tragedy have suffered horribly in school/home, or have a few screws loose in their cranium. Again, most of this kind of stuff can all be prevented, or aided, if parents would just pay attention to their children. Violence in games/movies/music/comicbooks/etc might give them some form of idea, MAYBE, but read this here: THE HARD TRUTH IS IS THAT IT'S ALREADY THERE IN THEM. Media isn't the trigger. Isn't the inspiration.It's more or less something for everyone to point the finger at because they don't want to blame themselves. And, believe me when I say this, very few people ever see the fault in their own actions. Ever. The government shouldn't have to do the parenting, shouldn't have to shield your eyes from reality, and neither should the retailer. If parents feel they have to leave the raising of their kids to games, to the rules of the governement, then perhaps they shouldn't be having children. I know there are a few parents who do pay attention to their kids, I praise them for it. But so much stuff happens behind closed doors that none of us ever see that it's not even funny. So don't blame the games. Don't blame the movies. If a kid kills his parents, his classmates, his/herself...it's probably for some very, VERY good reason. Well, a real reason, it's definately not good in nature. And, btw, protecting children from the real word is hilarious. It just leaves them open to crippling terror when something bad happens.

zombey1333
zombey1333

Ah, Utah. Why do they even have a "government" structure? Everyone pretty much agrees their state is run primarily by religion. Heh, I'm suprised they even know what a video game is. Then again, know thy enemy. I really wish people would stop beating around the bush and that someone would smite those who can't keep their religious beliefs out of the government. And, I concur, T games? Are they serious? Most things that are rated T for teen aren't really even that bad o.0

spartangold
spartangold

I can understand this for M games, but T is as well. Thats just ridiculous.

Autolycus
Autolycus

wont pass, waste of time. its up to the parents, not the retailers...

Cabal23
Cabal23

@weaponmaster01 You are basing your decision on that fact that one 14 year old is not affected. I teach 4th grade and I have kids who have night terrors because of the things they have seen in movies and games. It does affect kids. Maybe not every kid, but some will be affected. We only talk about the kids not affected, not the ones who end up blowing away their classmates.

Cabal23
Cabal23

"Essentially what it does it is has the unintended consequence of creating liability exposure which could force many retailers to either abandon their voluntary policies to enforce video game rating systems, or maybe perhaps choose not to sell video games at all" Yeah ok, retailers abandoning one of the only things making money right now because they are afraid their employees aren't doing their job. I doubt it. Sounds like posturing to me. Also this is not affecting gamers what so ever...as long as you are old enough to play the game. I suppose those complaining are afraid they won't be getting their games as easily because of their age. To those of us who are of age and responsible adults, we couldn't give a care in the world. Why do people rail against protecting children? Granted parents should do the job but that is not the reality. Someone needs to pick up their slack.

atopp399
atopp399

Would be nice if this just caused all the stores to get rid of their age related policies and start selling adult rated games, movies and music to anyone. By the looks of this law it would be legal to do so. That would just make the rating on media even more worthless.

Proman84
Proman84

"punish businesses that sell age-rated media to audiences outside recommended age groups" Does this sound like a recomendation to anyone?

sieg6529
sieg6529

gawd forbid the parents take responsibility...

chancellor28
chancellor28

sorry see nothing wrong with it if the game rating systems were taken more seriously adults could have more "adult" orentated games violence and sex in games would become a moot point because people who sold them to underage gamers could be punished. it would be treated like any other adult entertainment be that R rated movies right up to porn.

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

re: @acsam12304 umm the esrb is paid attention to as much as say a no touching the sharp objects rule for a suicidal teen XD @ those spazzing below at this, look at this as a good thing it means no more rabid maturity rates WE ARE CAUSING IT, not tv, not movies no US GAMERS. at one time u could swear and have a hush around you now calling a 12 year old a pu$$y doesnt even register. wake up ppl were causing it get over THAT reality FIRST

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

Ucan do it! awsome idea been a LONGGGGG time coming. like all power to the 6th grader who can dominate me on gears of war but he shouldnt have access to that stuff plain and simple.

Kratos428
Kratos428

Just another ridiculous case of idiot government officials who try to impede the rights of gamers because they're completely ignorant about the industry and its already sufficient self-regulations.

Bart247
Bart247

Another unconstitutional bill...another waste of time...and another waste of taxpayer's money. As for Jack Thompson, because he's disbarred permanantly, I'll just give him the finger and tell him to **** off.

acsam12304
acsam12304

an other thing why target the stores? why dont you fine the parents for the kid for getting the game. plus like everyone said how is this going to be enforced? an other law that will be in the book but no one trys to enforced

acsam12304
acsam12304

once again this shows how law makers are stupid. we already have a rule for selling games to minors and have a rating rule. ITS CALLED ESRB. this is just a waste of time for law makers to be doing and a waste of tax payers money going in to this law. but i bet how many this law is not the real law. i betting that this law has a lot of pork that law makers wanted for there districts thast why it passed. stupid law makers. one mroe thing just think of all the game stores in that state just laughing the @$$es off cuz the law makers dont know about the ESRB

Kfoss
Kfoss

how exactly do they plan on enforcing this or even coming up with evidence to enforce it or fine violators?...is the police force of utah gonna send in preteen/teenage CI's to go by video games?.. with what $65 in cash?- HA HA HA HA-cause the money used has to be traceable, its part of the burden of proof.. and of course this is far more important than busting crystal dealers....OUI what a mess..hopefully the prospect of the state getting sued within an inch of there lives for improper fines would be enough for this gov to veto the damn thing...and really all you need is an age gate in the sales software to force the clerk to type in a birth date..to handle this... as for JT...throw him under a bus just like they did in Florida...

CrushedGroove
CrushedGroove

Anyone else see this as a ploy? I'm not a big conspiracy nut, but I feel this has a shadier side. This law does not prohibit the sale of any medium to someone underage UNLESS that store has a policy to restrict said sales to said minors. Now, let's say this gets passed, and many retailers decide, "Hey, we just won't have a policy, so we can't be fined if we do sell something to a minor." That's fine, but what happens after everyone ditches their policy, and some douche like Thompson starts pointing out that the stores aren't controlling the sales to minors, so he moves to have a law put into place to MAKE them. I could be wrong, but it just sounds really fishy. Let's face it, if Jack Thompson is pushing this...it's going to make him money somehow...that's his sole motivation.

LooseChangepor
LooseChangepor

Tandem_Toad Posted Mar 21, 2009 2:46 pm GMT Pfff! How are suppose to "card" a teenager under 16 to see if they are a teenager? They should only have to worry about it if it's a M rating. Its called a non drivers liscense i.d wich you should have any way, if a cop stops you walking and you dont have i.d your in for a fine

weaponmaster01
weaponmaster01

I agree. These decisions are the responsibility of the parents, and it disappoints me to see the amount of senior adults tackling this situation so childishly. Honestly I don't see a problem with it either. I have a 14 year old brother who plays M rated games all the time and there is NOTHING wrong with the way he thinks or acts. He just continues to be a nuisance as usual asks a million questions but doesn't go around pissing in a plant and plotting to shoot up a school. Its the typical christian unions that are milking this for what it's worth. (No offense to anyone who may be of this religion.) That and other coordinated organizations that are huddled together for fear of the next generation and it's habits that don't follow the old ways. Video games are the new deal. People are gonna have to start getting use to it.

Tandem_Toad
Tandem_Toad

Pfff! How are suppose to "card" a teenager under 16 to see if they are a teenager? They should only have to worry about it if it's a M rating.

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

@Madrak_Arakeen Whoops, my lysdexia missed that sentence " it would apply not just to M for Mature games, but also to those rated T for Teen, as well as movies, TV shows, toys, and any other products for which the store pledges to adhere to an age recommendation.". Anyways, I'm more irritated that people are relying on government when it really should be the responsibility of the parents. What parents should be doing is monitoring their kids. However you are right, it's not a whole big deal because it's not censoring free speech. So if this passes else were people can't blame stores for selling M games to minors and parents will have to take responsibility.

roninfury
roninfury

It wasn't long ago that the ninth circuit shot down a law in Cali, which prohibited the sale of violent games to minors. I'm sure this law will have a similar fate. http://www.gamespot.com/news/6205001.html?tag=result;title;1 Whats odd is I don't see anyone in those messages ripping on California or liberals (Leland Yee is a democrat). But every other message in these comments are derogatory to Utah, Mormons, etc. Guess its cool to be a bigot as long as its those groups.

stziggy
stziggy

It's sad to see that in the middle of a recession this is what the state government of Utah descides to spend its time on. This isn't worth worrying about. I'm going to behave and not take a swipe at the Mormons.

ISQ93
ISQ93

I say they shouldn't approve that law. Kids will then get more anxious to buy those games. We all know that!

iamnessie
iamnessie

In Utah i was able to buy some kids butterfly knives. They seemed like cool 10 year olds. And they gave me $4. True story.

Triton
Triton

Utah, is this the state you can marry your sister / daughter or lots of other women or something like that???

Calmed_Fury
Calmed_Fury

This is absurd. Let's rid ourselves of Utah as a state. We can pick up Puerto Rico for the 50th so we don't have to change the flag...

LooseChangepor
LooseChangepor

sorry for the typo in the last one that made my message look like i was rambling. I thought i hit enter to space it all out

LooseChangepor
LooseChangepor

SmashingX Posted Mar 21, 2009 12:18 am GMT @buffdaddy69 - well i hope ur not proud you voted for an idiot that doesn't have even a basic understanding of how the economy works. but on topic, i always say it should be the parents first and foremost that are responsible for what their children are playing whether they are sold a T game or an M game, mom and dad should be aware of what the child is playing. LOL funny how the last 2 ecconomic crisis happened on the republican parties watch but yet this clown bashes the democratic party. BTW Id like to take this opurtunity to thank obama for cutting federal taxes, my check allmost looked pre reccesionish off by about 20 bucks but we are getting there

LooseChangepor
LooseChangepor

haichuu Posted Mar 20, 2009 10:47 pm GMT LooseChangepor unless you sell any sort of media then your personally liable if you sell it to the wrong person Same goes for cigaretts and Alchol. Im a bartender and Ive never worried about some one giving me some sort of fine because I check i.d's anytime some one enters my bar unless their old and grey. Belive me i am the biggest free speech advocate. My radio listening is on the lines of howard stern and i hardly watch any shows on tv that havent been produced by hbo or showtime. But this law is not a knock against free speech, its the same as going to the movies. When i was in my teen years ive gotten turned away to see movies like the jerky boys (god i should thank the guy working that day for saving my 7 bucks lol) Truthfully im surprised there hasnt allready been a law on the books like this allready. And besides that the law is on the books in utah. What has utah givin us that is good besides Andy Reid?

roninfury
roninfury

Breakitapart I agree with you. I'm just pointing out what the law actually does. Not that the law is good. Its BS to say its bad law because it was written in Utah and those religious people are to blame. The law is telling store owners that if you advertise that you wont sale game to minors we're going to hold you to what you said. Kids do seek out forbidden fruit. This law says its helping parent decide what fruit their kids should be allowed to have by making the parent be their when its bought, but only if the company promised in the first play that they wouldn't sale that item to your kids in the first place.

SmashingX
SmashingX

@buffdaddy69 - well i hope ur not proud you voted for an idiot that doesn't have even a basic understanding of how the economy works. but on topic, i always say it should be the parents first and foremost that are responsible for what their children are playing whether they are sold a T game or an M game, mom and dad should be aware of what the child is playing.

Merl57
Merl57

wow a 16 year old playing an M Rated game is worse than letting them drive a 3 ton vehicle at 75mph down a highway.......W O W

lamprey263
lamprey263

Shouldn't Jack Thompson be fined for he tells his own child to go into games stores by themselves to buy these inappropriate games why he sits by with a camera? I mean, if a guy asked his child to get a stripper while he recorded it wouldn't he be in trouble?

breakitapart
breakitapart

roninfury Dude- why is it of any concern of any government to get entrenched into the lives of business owners and consumers? Why is it not their main concern to promote freedom to sell and freedom to buy? The discipline has to happen in the home NOT at the store! Anytime the government tells businesses how to operate and consumers how to buy it is VERY SUSPECT and takes away our responsibilities to be good people. It is the nature of kids to seek out forbidden fruit. This has always been throughout time. So again, the fact that money and time was spent on this in my governing body really ticks me off. There are other things more important like, allowing businesses to thrive in a down economy, and getting back to constitutional rights all around. The government needs to get out of the lives of the citizens. -They are beholden to US not we to THEM! I urge anyone who loves freedom to at least listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeYscnFpEyA&feature=channel_page

roninfury
roninfury

I pay federal taxes and in congress their are Catholic's and baptists and all sorts of religions. and those congressmen give money to those organizations!! I must be paying taxes to those organizations!! I once bought a final fantasy game and my boss payed me the money so therefore he supporting square/enix. Find me one law that's unique to Utah that you find "ridiculous".

buffdaddy69
buffdaddy69

" roninfury Posted Mar 20, 2009 11:46 pm GMT way to be a racist Buffdaddy69 !" Im actually white and I voted for Barack Obama, If you need further proof, go on myspace and look up in Philadelphia zip code 19152 and look for the display name The Hundred Dollar Man, you'll see me in my bad ass leather jacket. whammy.

joke_man
joke_man

Nickdastick and roninfury: FYI, somewhere around 4/5 of Utah's State Legislatures are Mormon, or more properly, LDS. Furthermore, I assure you that many of these people give very heavily to the Mormon Church and they are paid by taxes. So, in part, a portion of what you are taxed in Utah (sales tax, property, etc.) does go to the Mormon Church! This is directly linked, but more or less, it is based on fact... I can also say that they have some of the most rediculous laws in Utah and most of them are passed because of the LDS members within the Utah Legislature. I could never live in a state that thinks they are responsible for telling their entire population what they can and can't do. Talk about a lack of belief in your people to make judgements.

roninfury
roninfury

way to be a racist Buffdaddy69 !!

buffdaddy69
buffdaddy69

Got two thumbs down, uh oh...guess theres a couple of white republicians who hate Barack Obama =-)

breakitapart
breakitapart

I live in Utah and this is lame. When will the government get out of the lives of private citizens?

roninfury
roninfury

ZedX your retarded. Utah does not make you pay a percentage of your income to any church. If you own a game store and you don't want to get fined then don't advertise that you wont sale mature games to minors. Problem solved This is a law against false advertising not against games. You guys need to clam the fck down about your "gamin rights"

nickdastick
nickdastick

Hey ZexX-14Pilot, what are you smoking? The government of Utah makes you pay a percentage to the LDS (Mormon) church? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard! I have lived in Utah for a long time and have never been forced to pay that. Get your facts straight man!

joke_man
joke_man

Key-word, "disbarred attorney", hahaha... You suck Jack, haha..............