What is Video Lottery really costing us?

After hearing about the recent property tax increase for Minnehaha county (due to an uptick in prosecutions) I’m starting to think it is time for our public universities to do a study on what video lottery is costing taxpayers due to the crimes related to it;

Investigators say Denae Baustian stole more than $170,000 from the department.  In a Lincoln County Courtroom Tuesday it was revealed that she used an ATM card to take money from department accounts which she then used to play video lottery.

I have argued for years that VL is probably costing us more then what we get out of it due to the crime surrounding the venture (embezzlement, robberies, divorces, incarceration, etc, etc.)

Isn’t it time to end this ‘experiment’ that has only been good for the machine owners and not the taxpayers?


#1 Testor15 on 07.17.12 at 1:39 pm

Video Lottery is only a means to take what little reserves the average working person has left and give it to the small group of haves. I have never understood the thrill of gambling or similar addictions but the ability to have an ATM machine next to the Video gaming machine is a recipe for disaster.

When all the stolen money, court costs, welfare, food stamps, destroyed families, ruined businesses, court / prison / legal costs and any number of added expenses society are tabulated my ‘bet’ is society in general will be declared the loser. The stolen money from two businesses I know of almost ruined them and it did ruin the normally solid people who cracked their sanity to gamble.

The most you can win in those ‘casinos’ is $1,000. At what cost? You think you can beat a computer? I have watched friends drop $1,000 and more in a night just to win it back? I used to leave because I couldn’t stand the waste.

#2 Craig on 07.17.12 at 2:04 pm

The revenues far exceed the societal costs – I’m not sure how someone could claim costs exceed revenue with a straight face unless they are simply ignorant to the numbers involved. Video Lottery has contributed over 2 billion dollars to the state since implementation in 1987… do you really think we have spent a couple of billion on gambling addicts?

Just look at crime rates prior to Video Lottery and you will note not much has changed. In fact, for larceny – theft, the rates over the past decade haven’t been that low since the 1970s – yet population has increased. Same is true for robbery – rates are lower now than they were in the mid 70s long before Video Lottery was even thought of.


Either way it doesn’t matter – it is still about freedom. Take away the freedom from someone to gamble via video lottery and they simply drive to an Indian Casino or across the border to Iowa to hand their money to Great Falls.

If they can’t get to a casino, they gamble at a local poker game or try their hand at online gambling. People start betting on sports or taking extended weekends to Vegas and they start collecting slips from the local OTB place.

Some people just have addictive personalities, but you can’t protect them from themselves. Taking away the rights of the masses in order to prevent a crime isn’t the way to manage the system, and I for one get a little tired of people blaming the system for their failures.

Don’t blame video lottery when you are caught embezzling from work. Don’t blame a sex addiction for when you drop $2,000 at a strip club, and don’t blame McDonald’s when you gain 70lbs from eating Big Macs every other day. Look in the mirror and blame yourself. Everything else is just an excuse.

#3 Justin on 07.17.12 at 3:28 pm

You are my favorite, Craig.

I don’t want to hear anything from the moralists. My issues are twofold:

1. The Grand Falls casino is picking our pockets.

2. These aging casinos everywhere are a blight on this fine city.

We should close them all and have the tribes pay the owners some one time fee to give the owners something. And then build a sf casino to replace the revenue (let’s see somebody tell me casinos don’t make money).

#4 Scott on 07.17.12 at 4:09 pm

Without arguing the pros and cons of gambling, i would say the grand falls casino has been a boom for Sioux falls. The vast majority of employees live here, Brandon, etc. so their paychecks are circulating through our community. Any vacationers that visit there are inevitably shopping here, and possibly staying in our hotels rather than out there. We may not get the direct tax revenue, but other money is circulating around here.

#5 Craig on 07.17.12 at 4:35 pm

Scott – I’ll agree a lot of those paychecks are coming to Sioux Falls / Brandon, but I would also argue most of the revenue from that casino flows directly out of Sioux Falls / Brandon. The profits stay there and a little trickles down to the employees, but the net result has to be a drain on the Sioux Falls region.

I guess I agree with Justin that we should allow a real casino to open in Sioux Falls. Perhaps a few real casinos… then we might see these corner video lottery places start evaporating and they can be replaced with more tattoo shops and nail salons like every growing community needs (sarcasm alert in case you are curious).

Justin: “You are my favorite, Craig.

(Justin – did you want paypal or should I mail you a check?)

#6 Justin on 07.17.12 at 4:48 pm

lol at the tattoo parlors, Sioux Falls must have more tattoo parlors per capita than any other place on earth.

No need for a check, I’ll hold out for a Godfather style favor.

#7 Scott on 07.17.12 at 5:02 pm

I will say this on the subject of crime vs revenue. My family’s business had no embezzlement problems for over 20 years until video lottery. Since then, we have had to fire 6 store managers for kiting deposits, all of whom were otherwise wonderful employees. Since our police department doesn’t want to deal with embezzlement issues, it’s been a killer in a time of minimized margins.

#8 Pathloss on 07.17.12 at 6:28 pm

State government needs work. I have to deviate but drivers license process is a disaster. I spent 4 occassions at the local office. Each time was 4 hours. I was helping a 23 yo get a license. She had no license for 3 years because it was easier to be cited and pay the fine than go through the process. The local office showed a restriction while the state showed none. She had SR22 insurance (prior accident) for years but the state had no record. You must show 4 forms of ID and women must show name changes from prior marriages. What a mess. No wonder so many drive without a license or insurance.

#9 Pathloss on 07.17.12 at 6:38 pm

I wish I’d recorded dates and events. There’s a major story here (hint for KELO &/or KSFY). The room is over occupancy. There’s one bathroom. The air doesn’t work. The same 10 minute video is shown over and over on a 15″ screen to high in the corner to see or hear. There’s not enough employees and the best answer you get is a grunt.

#10 Pathloss on 07.17.12 at 6:45 pm

Why is it so easy to put money in a state gambling machine but impossible to get a drivers license?

#11 l3wis on 07.17.12 at 9:37 pm

Scott, you point out what I have been saying a long time. Do a fucking study already of the impact of VL. We are losing when it comes to VL, plain and simple.

Leave a Comment