SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Even more Sioux Falls casinos have applied for multiple licenses for additional video lottery machines in their buildings.
We brought you coverage last month about the issue, and now there were 14 requests on Monday’s agenda to add new video lottery machines at five different locations in Sioux Falls.
A loophole has allowed all the machines to be under one roof at each establishment as long as they are in different suites.
Below are all the requests for more lottery machines that will be voted on at the November 1 meeting. Each color represents the same building or business with multiple suites requesting additional video lottery machines.
At least two council members say it was never the intention for video lottery to increase like it has in the city.
Council member Greg Neitzert says an ordinance passed in 2019 led to this.
“That was going to be, supposed to be more business-friendly that would have allowed more openings and the sharing of coolers and allowing employees to pass between two casinos, and that has been used in ways that we never intended, and so now we have all kinds of openings and we have casinos getter bigger and bigger and it’s definitely a concern,” he said.
Neitzert says it allowed owners to carve buildings up into separate suites so they can apply for multiple licenses and add 10 lottery machines per room.
“It’s four businesses on paper, but if you go through it, it walks and it feels like a 40-machine casino. Each room is its own technically business, but to a customer, it feels like a 40-machine casino,” Neitzert said.
“The state hasn’t raised the bet limit, they haven’t raised the number of machines. Just inflation in general, and we’re seeing it more even now. But over time we’ve seen, ‘hey, it’s tougher and tougher for the industry to make money,’ and so they made their own loophole,” council member Pat Starr said.
Starr says they need to offer more guidance to owners of establishments with video lottery.
“So we need something too, rather than deny more than two licenses in one location, we want to make sure that it’s cemented into ordinance, so people have realistic expectations. They know what the law is,” he said.
Neitzert says new rules in an ordinance could involve a few different things.
“We could cap. We could just say no more video lottery. We could allow separation distances, like casinos, can’t be within 1,000 feet of each other. There’s a number of things that we could look at doing. We have some restrictions based on state law, but we do have some latitude, and I think it’s just getting time to act,” Neitzert said.
At the city council meeting Monday night, Neitzert said the council approved 17 video lottery licenses in 2019 and 19 licenses in 2020. So far this year, they have approved 27 licenses.
They plan to have an informational meeting for the council next week about the issue, and they are working on a new ordinance that is expected to be brought forth sometime in November.