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Lawmakers looking to continue gambling expansion

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Lawmakers looking to continue gambling expansion
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE -- Some major moves are afoot in the Legislature this winter to expand legalized gambling in South Dakota.

There are attempts under way to raise bet limits. For Deadwood casinos, the maximum would climb to $1,000 from the current $100. On video lottery machines, the $2 top bet would rise to $5.

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And there are efforts to relax or remove ownership restrictions.

Currently a person can have a financial interest in, at most, three Deadwood casinos. That would be repealed under one proposal, so there wouldn't be a limit any longer.

As for video lottery, 10 machines are allowed per establishment. That ceiling would rise to 14 under one measure that's been introduced.

Another piece of legislation has already cleared the House of Representatives that would expand the types of non-profit organizations that can use pull-tab dispensing machines.

Sen. Bob Gray, R-Pierre, is prime sponsor of the video lottery legislation while Sen. Tom Nelson, R-Lead, is prime sponsor for the Deadwood legislation.

Gray's $5 bet limit proposal for video lottery is Senate Bill 167. His lead sponsor in the House is Rep. Mark Kirkeby, R-Rapid City.

The legislation that would allow video lottery establishments to have up to 14 machines is Senate Bill 175. Gray's lead sponsor in the House is Rep. Gene Abdallah, R-Sioux Falls.

The $1,000 bet limit proposal for Deadwood is Senate Bill 108. If Nelson can get it through the Senate, the lead House sponsor is Rep. Charles Hoffman, R-Eureka.

The repeal measure for the Deadwood casino ownership restriction is Senate Bill 112. If Nelson succeeds with its Senate passage, then Rep. Chuck Turbiville, R-Deadwood, would carry it in the House.

Nelson has a third Deadwood measure. Senate Bill 109 would specify that the Deadwood gambling tax doesn't apply to free or promotional play provided by a license holder to a customer. Its House lead sponsor is Rep. Mike Verchio, R-Hill City.

The free-play legislation is the only one of those five to have a hearing scheduled at this point. The Senate committee on commerce and energy, which Nelson chairs, has a hearing set for Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The pull-tab legislation, House Bill 1119, is sponsored by Rep. Roger Solum, R-Watertown. The House of Representatives approved it 67-0. It now goes to the Senate for consideration. Its lead sponsor there is Sen. Ried Holien, R-Watertown.

Those half-dozen measures fall into line with an expansion by the South Dakota Lottery during the past year under the new Daugaard administration.

The Lottery Commission agreed last year to allow line-up games on video lottery terminals. Line-up games use numbers and symbols similar to slot machines.

The lottery office also provided financial assistance with new technology connections for the advanced games in order to help encourage video lottery business people to place them in establishments.

The commission also fell in line with the national change making the Powerball lotto game into a $2 ticket. The price previously was $1 for the basic ticket.

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