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Margaret and Scott Huber, of Sturgis play a slot machine at Cadillac Jacks Gaming Resort in Deadwood on Jan. 29. Casinos in Deadwood will be able to offer special slot machines that are linked to machines in other states to provide larger jackpots. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Aaron Rosenblatt, File)

Deadwood slots can be linked to other states

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By Chet Brokaw

PIERRE (AP) — Deadwood casinos will soon be able to offer special slot machines that are linked to machines in other states to provide much larger jackpots.

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The South Dakota Legislature's Rules Review Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize progressive slot machines in the Black Hills gambling town to be connected to networks of machines in other states. The rule was already approved by the state Gaming Commission.

Money bet in a progressive slot machine gives a player a chance to win a prize on that machine, but a portion of the bet goes into a pool that grows until it is won when a player hits the progressive jackpot.

Larry Eliason, executive secretary of the state Gaming Commission, said New Jersey and Nevada are working on similar rules. A multistate progressive network with more players will allow much larger jackpots than a network that just includes machines in Deadwood, he said.

"You have people in large population areas, or certainly large gaming areas, who would be playing these machines, and that would build the prize up to a large amount until it's finally hit," Eliason said outside the legislative hearing.

A network could set up its system to provide jackpots of $300,000 to $500,000, or it could design the system so jackpots of $10 million or even $20 million are won less frequently, Eliason said.

Deadwood casinos might start operating a multistate progressive slot machine system as soon as February, Eliason said.

The rule was requested by International Game Technology, a company that offers gambling equipment, software and network systems.

The legislative panel, which has the final say on such agency rules, spent less than 10 minutes on the slot machine rule. Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron, asked what advantage such a system would offer South Dakota gamblers.

"Players in South Dakota would have an opportunity for large jackpots," replied Gayle Bauer of IGT. "Any player who qualifies for the progressive jackpot would get a higher jackpot because there are more players participating in the pool."

Eliason said American Indian tribal casinos are already able to offer progressive slot games linked to tribal gambling operations in other states.

At least two Deadwood casinos are interested in offering progressive slots connected to a multistate network, he said.

"It would create a new product and potentially some new excitement," Eliason said.

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