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Lesser lottery share for state?

PIERRE — The South Dakota Lottery Commission adopted a 20-item strategy for increasing video lottery play Tuesday.

Lottery Director Norm Lingle said his staff would start immediately on a half-dozen changes that can be made without approval by the Legislature and without rule changes. Among those are licensing bartop machines, allowing businesses to offer free play and match play promotions, and establishing a player loyalty and rewards program.

0 Talk about it

The top priority however depends on the Legislature: decreasing state government’s 50 percent share of net machine income that currently is set in state law.

Net machine income is the money lost by players in the privately owned machines. The smaller cut for state government would be an incentive for investment in new technology.

At this point, lottery officials don’t appear ready to present any proposals of any kind regarding video lottery to the Legislature in the 2014 session that opens Jan. 14. “I’d like to be more aggressive on all of the changes available,” said commissioner Doyle Estes, of Hill City.

Lingle said he and three commissioners will meet with Gov. Dennis Daugaard as soon as possible to present the plan.

Chairman Bob Hartford, of Pierre, said the expectation is the lottery staff “will embark shortly” on all of the short-term items on the list.

“That is our full plan. That is exactly correct,” Lingle replied.

The No. 2 priority is increasing the $1,000 top prize to $2,500 and the $2 bet limit to $5. That also would need the Legislature’s approval.

So would most of the other priorities, including No. 4, progressive jackpots; No. 5, allowing establishments to have 15 machines per license rather than the current 10; and No. 17, allowing multiple licenses in a single room.

Lingle said lottery officials can reach memos of understanding with machine manufacturers to publish statistics about each game’s performance as a way “to stimulate healthy competition from a product development perspective.”

State law currently requires the information to be confidential.

However, Lingle told the commissioners, agreements can be reached with the manufacturers to put the information on the lottery’s Internet site and make it otherwise available.

An overall theme is returning more authority to the commission. Under the original video lottery laws, the commission could set state government’s share up to 35 percent.

The Legislature at the urging of then-Gov. Bill Janklow set the state share at 50 percent in the mid-1990s as part of the replacement funding to reduce property taxes by 30 percent.