Earlier today, GamePolitics spoke with Dave Davis of the Utah Retail Merchants Association.
Davis argued against the original, Jack Thompson-authored version of HB353 during a committee hearing last week. But amendments subsequently added by sponsor Rep. Mike Morley (left) persuaded Davis to drop his group's opposition:
We went from adamantly opposed to the bill to a position of neutrality. We still weren't supporting the bill but we had dropped our opposition based on the fact that [Rep. Morley] had made several favorable amendments for our retailers...
The bill was rolling forward and in its first form, it was completely unacceptable. Rep. Morley and the legislature could have very well - and probably would have - passed it in its original form. What we were able to do was secure some safe harbor exemptions for retailers.
Although Davis didn't suggest it, GP asked if the practice of age-gating M-rated game content on websites might offer a measure of protection from HB353's penalties for online retailers:
[Under the amended bill] if a buyer intentionally misrepresents their age, then the retailer wouldn't be subject to penalty. Keep in mind that this statute only applies to retailers who are advertising that they don't sell M-rated games or R-rated movies to underage people.
You would have to have a specific [advertisement] that you do not sell the age-restricted product to underage people... Just discussing the [existence of the] rating system would not bring [retailers] under the auspices of "advertising..."
If [a retailer] had an incident with one of their clerks, we've now provided a safe harbor where, if they've provided some training for that clerk on how to handle those age-restricted products, they would not be liable...
Davis expects the measure to pass its next hurdle, the Utah State Senate.