PIERRE, SD -- Now that South Dakota's smoking ban has slashed the state's video lottery revenues to $95 million, the lowest level since 1995, lawmakers here said they may allow operators to expand their on-location footprint from 10 gaming terminals to 14.
However, at least four of the 14 machines would be required to feature slot-type line games, a new gameplay option that was only legalized for the state's VLT sector last year.
The VLT expansion measure, Senate Bill 175, passed the state Senate's Committee on State Affairs on Feb. 8 by a 7-2 vote, then passed the full Senate 24-6. The bill is now awaiting action in the House.
A spokesperson for the South Dakota Association of Video Lottery Establishments said approximately 450 of the state's 1,400 VLT locations already have 10 machines and could make the upgrade.
According to the Music and Vending Association of South Dakota, a trade association for amusement vendors, VLT operators were hoping the state would also increase VLT bet limits. However, a proposal to boost maximum bets from $2 to $5 was rejected by the state Senate.
Since South Dakota's smoking ban took effect in late 2010, VLT revenues fell more than 17%, said state budget director Jason Dilges. In some counties, operators reported revenue plummeting as much as 35%. | SEE STORY