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OUR VIEW: Where there’s no smoke, there’s still video lottery

Turns out the smoking ban didn’t do as much harm to the video lottery business as many predicted — or outright proclaimed.

Back in 2010, South Dakota finally enacted a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. We were all for that ban, and we feel the state really hasn’t looked back since the controversial proposal finally was enacted.

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Unfortunately, the video lottery industry took a bit of a dive at about the same time, and some declared the two issues were related.

We never really felt they were. We didn’t feel that video lottery would take that much of a hit, or that restaurants would see a related decline, either.

But sure enough, lottery numbers fell and many placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the statewide smoking ban.

Monday, The Daily Republic reported that the downturn started well before the smoking ban. In fact, the decline hit right around 2005 or 2006, roughly about the same time that the economic downturn hit the country.

Back in 2002, video lottery’s share of South Dakota gambling was about 61 percent, but that fell to about 42 percent by 2012.

During that decade, the market shares of Deadwood casinos and tribal casinos increased. Other lottery options — such as scratch tickets — also took a bite of video lottery’s share.

We aren’t happy to see video lottery fall in South Dakota. Far from it.

Whereas we have opined that we don’t want to see it increase drastically, we also realize that it is a legal and financially necessary industry in the state. Many jobs depend upon it.

And since the state itself takes a portion of the proceeds, South Dakota has grown rather addicted to video lottery.

However, these new statistics tend to show that video lottery was declining before the smoking ban took effect. Certainly, the ban didn’t help video lottery, either, but it can’t be solely blamed.

Although we suspect each video lottery proprietor has his own statistical and anecdotal evidence, we hope that these recently released statistics help finally put the smoking-ban debate to rest.