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Slot machines might be linked across state lines

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News Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
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Slot machines might be linked across state lines
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

By Bob Mercer

Capitol Correspondent

PIERRE — Special slot machines that offer big jackpots might soon be linked between Deadwood and Atlantic City casinos.

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Gambling company IGT is interested in starting the network between South Dakota and New Jersey using slot machine systems known as progressives.

Progressives offer standard games and bank a small amount from each bet into a side pool that grows until a player hits the winning combination for that jackpot.

State rules allow progressive systems in Deadwood casinos and among Deadwood casinos.

Deadwood casinos will need a rule change by the South Dakota Commission on Gaming to participate in progressive networks with other jurisdictions.

The commission will hold a public hearing Nov. 20 in Deadwood about the change.

Tribal casinos, which operate under their own rules, already offer progressive games that link at multiple locations.

Roger Tellinghuisen, a Rapid City lawyer, is representing IGT on the rule change. He said the network approach to progressive slot machines is similar to the multi-state concept of Powerball and other lotto ticket games.

If the gaming commission agrees and the Legislature’s rules review committee gives final clearance Dec. 17, the rule change would take effect in early January.

Multi-state progressives could be in operation as early as February.

“It might be a little longer than that,” Tellinghuisen said.

State gambling regulators don’t specifically track progressives in Deadwood, according to Larry Eliason, executive secretary for the gaming commission.

The jackpots, however, are reported to regulators for business-tax purposes, because the amounts are apportioned among the participating casinos.

Will multi-state progressives generate more play? “Probably,” Eliason said, “because it’s a new product, at least for a while.”

Tellinghuisen said IGT expects there will be more jackpot winners and that will build enthusiasm.

“They certainly see an upside to their business model,” he said.

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