PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Two people who have been in the video-lottery business for a long time want the South Dakota Lottery Commission to support raising the amount that people are allowed to bet and the maximum jackpots that the machines can pay.
Troy Erickson of Rapid City, president of MG Oil Company, and Don Rose, who runs Shenanigans Sports Bar and Grill in Sioux Falls, took that message to the commission Thursday.
South Dakota law has allowed no more than a $2 bet per play and a $1,000 top jackpot since video lottery began in 1989. The Legislature has refused to raise those amounts, despite attempts by South Dakota Lottery officials and video lottery lobbyists.
Video lottery has long been one of state government’s largest sources of revenue, ranking behind only the state sales tax for many years. State government and businesses split the money that players lose in the privately-owned machines.
Lottery executive director Norm Lingle said Thursday that the state general fund received about $163 million from video lottery for the budget year that ended June 30. Newly released figures show that video lottery play however was down about 1.66% in July and August compared to similar months last year.
Erickson told the commission that the South Dakota Licensed Beverage Dealers and Gaming Association plans to bring video-lottery legislation to the 2024 session that opens on January 9. “I thought I’d come here and just ask for some support from the commission,” he said. “It’s time for an increase.”
He suggested a tiered system of maximum bets ranging from $3 to $5 along with jackpot increases. He also said that the lottery office should pay any winnings above $2,500. Currently, the establishments pay all video-lottery prizes.
“I think we’d see a huge bump in revenue for the lottery and for the operator,” Erickson said.
Rose, who’s vice president of the association, urged the commission’s support. “We believe there’s money laying on the table,” he said. “We need you to go to the governor and say these guys make some sense.”
Commissioner Tona Rozum of Mitchell, a former legislator, asked, “What’s the line for what we can do as a commission, as appointed commissioners, in this process?”
Lingle replied, “I’m just going to answer, all of the above.” But, he added, “Until you see the final draft of the bill, it’s hard to weigh in and make a final determination.”
He explained that the lottery office take its direction on legislation from the state Department of Revenue’s deputy secretary David Wiest and Revenue Secretary Michael Houdyshell and ultimately the governor’s office.
However, there’s nothing that prohibits a commissioner from having conversations with a legislator, according to Lingle. “Certainly, your own personal view is one thing. Not knowing how everybody else feels on it, it’s hard to speak for the group as a whole,” he said.