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Lawmakers want South Dakotans to gamble more

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Lawmakers want South Dakotans to gamble more
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE — The South Dakota Lottery Commission is looking to attract a new generation of players for video lottery, Executive Director Norm Lingle told a state Senate panel Tuesday.

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Among the changes under consideration are progressive slot machine-style games with large jackpots, multi-player blackjack tables, and more types of new machines.

But expanding into Internet gambling isn’t on the menu, he said.

“There’s a lot of moving parts. Nobody’s sure where the dust is going to settle,” Lingle said during a briefing for the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee.

The commission’s efforts are “spot on,” said Sen. Chuck Jones, R-Flandreau. He has been chief executive for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s casino.

“It’s better late than never,” Jones said about the lottery administration’s new efforts. He said on-line gaming is next on the horizon. “At some point, I think it’s inevitable it’s going to happen.”

The commission contracted for a major study last year and has used the data to develop its strategy.

Video lottery stagnated in the past decade and the smoking ban approved by voters in 2010 accelerated the decline.

The money that players lose or leave behind, known as net machine income, dropped from $207.7 million in fiscal 2002 to $176.4 million in fiscal 2012. There was a small upturn to $184.6 million in fiscal 2013.

State government receives 50 percent of net machine income from the more than 9,000 privately owned terminals.

“To sustain this, we need to somehow get the younger folks involved,” Lingle said.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Ried Holien, indicated there is interest in helping video lottery grow.

“It’s definitely moving forward, in the right direction,” said Holien, R-Watertown.

He added: “No time like the present.”

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