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A video lottery machine is pictured here Wednesday at a Mitchell business. A South Dakota Senate panel OK'd an increase in video lottery machines Thursday from 10 to 14 machines per establishment. (Chris Huber/Republic)

Senate approves more terminals at video lottery establishments

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PIERRE --- The first expansion in the quarter century that South Dakota has allowed video lottery won approval Friday from the state Senate.

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Establishments would be able to have up to 14 of the gambling terminals in each licensed place of business, if at least four have the new software for line-up games similar to slot machines.

Otherwise the traditional limit of 10 per establishment would remain in place.

The vote was 24-6 in favor. The legislation, Senate Bill 127, moves to the House of Representatives next.

"It would simply allow video lottery operators to have four more machines if they are the new machines," Sen. Bob Gray, R-Pierre, said. He is the legislation's prime sponsor.

Sen. Phyllis Heimenan, R-Sioux Falls, said South Dakotans have voted four times in favor of retaining video lottery.

She said the legislation would allow the private business people to take the risk of adding more machines.

"Let's give our business partners a chance," Heineman said.

Sen. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, said his opposition was based on the suffering he's seen in his area by people "at the hands of video lottery." He listed the losses of retirement funds, suicide attempts and embezzlements.

"How do you measure the cost of a suicide? How do you measure the cost of a divorce?" Rhoden asked. "I know this seems like a minor change, but it is an expansion."

Gray said he recognizes there are social costs.

"This bill is not about whether we should have, keep or abolish video lottery," he said.

About 450 of the approximately 1,400 licensed establishments statewide are at the 10-machine limit, according to testimony at the Senate hearing on the bill Wednesday.

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