South Dakota voters may have approved video lottery more than once, but a vocal minority still reviles the gambling machines as an illicit addiction that isn’t worth the benefit to the state coffers.
That ongoing battle reared up again today, when the Senate Commerce committee approved a bill that, along with some language cleanup, legalized penny-denomination bets.
Critics, such as Dale Bartscher of the socially conservative Family Heritage Alliance, said the lower denomination would make it easier for people to become addicted.
It “only encourages a person to play longer and more repetitively as he or she plays the penny credits,” Bartscher said.
Norm Lingle, executive director of the state lottery, objected to Bartscher’s characterization of the bill as expanding gambling. The one-cent bets, Lingle said, simply make things more efficient and bring South Dakota in line with national trends. Many video lottery games, he said, are made with one-penny bets in mind.
The bill, SB52, will “allow manufacturers to keep the games fresh on the video lottery terminals,” he said.
Sen. Phil Jensen tried to amend SB52 to strike the penny-bet clause, but only Sen. Tim Begalka joined with him out of seven senators. Angie Buhl, Ried Holien, Mark Johnston, Dan Lederman and Ryan Maher voted to kill the amendment 5-2. Then the full committee passed the measure 6-1, with Begalka voting yes and Jensen still in opposition.
The measure now moves to the Senate floor.