PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — An attempt to modernize a requirement that video lottery businesses in South Dakota show the odds of winning has been blocked.
A 1991 state law requires businesses post odds of winning at or near video lottery terminals. The South Dakota Lottery Commission wanted to let them post a computer link to a state website showing odds for each game.
The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee said no Tuesday on a 4-2 vote.
“This is a clear direction given by the Legislature,” said Representative Jon Hansen, a Dells Rapid Republican who’s a lawyer. “I just think that’s in violation of what the statute provides.”
Clark Hepper is the lottery’s deputy executive director. ““Currently we are not posting every odds for every game in every establishment,” he acknowledged. “But they are available on our website.”
Representative Ryan Cwach, a Yankton Democrat who’s a lawyer, found it “concerning” that the lottery wasn’t following a state law that was meant to protect people.
Hepper said the law dates from a time when there were few games. He said the lottery currently licenses seven manufacturers who bring new games “frequently throughout the year.” Hepper said it’s “almost impossible” to keep up via posters and said it’s “a burden” to get additional odds to every establishment on a monthly basis.
Cwach asked why the odds couldn’t be shown on the screen when the player begins the game. Hepper said that would be up to the manufacturer.
The existing rule said, “The odds must be posted in the area where the video lottery machines are located and must be visible to the public.” The commission wanted to repeal that and replace it with a rule saying the odds “must be published to the South Dakota Lottery website at Lottery.sd.gov. The overall odds or a link to the published odds on the South Dakota Lottery website must also be posted on or near each video lottery machine.”
The commission also wanted to repeal another part of the rule that said, “In addition, the lottery shall print a brochure that contains the average odds of winning a particular hand or combination in a video lottery game. The management of the licensed establishment shall make the brochure available to the public in the area where the video lottery machines are located.”
Hansen said a link doesn’t comply with the state law that says the odds shall be posted on or near every video lottery machine. “As I read that first sentence it seems to me a link is not good enough,” he said.
The lottery operates under the state Department of Revenue. The department’s chief legal counsel, Kirsten Jasper, told Hansen the statute must be read in its entirety. “Posted can be interpreted a number of different ways,” she said. “We’re trying to help the industry meet these requirements.”
Senator Jean Hunhoff, a Yankton Republican, and Senator Timothy Johns, a Lead Republican, wanted to let the rule go forward. Hunhoff said it would be easier to change the law during the 2023 legislative session. She asked how many complaints have there been.
“People just sit down. They don’t look for the odds,” she said.
The committee decided the rest of the proposed rules could go into effect.