After the Bonus Round bar closed by my house a new owner took over the Cliff avenue establishment. They went through the normal process of applying for a license. They were going to be a casino with off-sale beer. The next thing I know the place closes after just a few weeks and re-opens with no video lottery and only a walk up counter to buy small plastic package liquor and beer (they also sell vape products).

A city councilor told me that since they already approved the alcohol use the business owner can change that use however they want to.

While you would think I would welcome a liquor store in my backyard it’s a little more complicated then that.

The Get N’ Go at 14th and Cliff suddenly closed on May 1st. They sold the single malt beverage cans. Essentially the closure is pushing the alcohol sales to this liquor store.

I think in the future if an alcohol establishment presents a business plan to the council when applying for a license they should have to stick to that business model for at least 12 months or self-termination of the license.

Isn’t it ironic all the tears shed over MJ yet getting alcohol in this city is a walk in the park.

As we know the city council will be voting on a 2nd reading Tuesday night to CAP the number of video lottery licenses in Sioux Falls (Item #23)

Background & Objective:  The proposal limits the number of video lottery placements for malt beverage and wine licensed establishments to 160. The authorized number of video lottery machine placements will increase every even numbered year based on population growth. When the additional lottery placements become available, the ordinance provides for a lottery.

Item #24 would cap malt beverage licenses for casino locations to three;

Background & Objective:  The proposed ordinance clarifies 111.021 by stating that there can be no more than three malt beverage/wine premises that share an opening for employees, refrigeration, etc., but is not accessible to the public.

As I have said in the past, I do support the cap, but it really should have happened 20 years ago. and Sioux Falls city Councilor Merkouris touched on the dilemma;

For a while, I’ve watched new video lottery casinos open or expand and wondered about the market that is driving them. They wouldn’t be open unless people were supporting them and the business model penciled out, right?

So when Councilor Rich Merkouris told me he’d visited dozens of casinos in the past two months in putting potential ordinance changes together, I asked for his impressions.

“Every one is so different,” he said. “Sometimes, you go in, and there’s only one person sitting there. For an hour and a half.”

Many of the customers he talked with represent people living paycheck to paycheck, he said. And while, in the worst cases, an entire paycheck might be spent in a casino, in most instances these are people just wanting to unwind with the hope of a win.

That is the problem with video lottery, does the revenue from it cover the social ills that come with crime and addiction associated with gambling? I am not sure, because like TIFs, I don’t think the state has ever done a comprehensive study to determine what those costs are.

Jodi thinks people are gambling because of hope;

We all, at our core, hope tomorrow is going to be better than today or yesterday. How we define “better” might vary, but that’s the root of everything from a political movement to what prompts someone to play a game of chance.

People gamble because of addiction, not hope, but the real hope could come from beating your addiction.

As a local governing body, the Sioux Falls city council does have the authority and the justification to cap video lottery, I am not sure they have the votes. Mayor TenHaken did tell the The Dakota Scout that he would vote for the cap if it ends up being a tie.

In her time in office on the city council, the Quen Be De and I agreed on very little. But one night De Knudson decided to take on video lottery, she was on fire, and I was in the chambers. She essentially wanted to close it down in our city and she said, “I’m tired of all these junky casinos on every corner . . . and if the state wants to sue us, bring it on!”

Well, they did, and they won;

And, if a business has a full liquor license (not just wine and/or beer), the city can’t really do anything to stop them from also offering video lottery. That’s because of a 2011 S.D. Supreme Court case – Law vs. Sioux Falls – that I will spare you the details of here.

Our state law on these things is crappy, because, well our state legislature is crappy. I recently talked to a South Dakota parole board member about the attacks on his group by Sheriff Milstead and Mayor TenHaken. I said, ‘Don’t you have to follow state law when granting parole?’ He said yes. Then I said, ‘So wouldn’t it be up to the state legislature to change the laws so parole opportunities are more rare?’ He said yes. ‘So why are they attacking you?’ He laughed.

Councilors Neitzert and Merkouris think they have state law on their side;

Councilors Neitzert and Rich Merkouris in recent weeks have been visiting casinos across the city. Neitzert told Sioux Falls Simplified they’ve seen several violations of state law, as well as some unintended consequences of a 2019 city ordinance change related to video lottery.

Oh, but that pesky SD Supreme Court, that makes it up while they go along, might have a problem with your arm chair lawyering.

I could walk these two into certain bars in this city at any given time and show them health code violations, video lottery violations, public smoking violations, over serving, and a whole host of other problems. To be honest with you, I have not seen POs in a bar doing random ID checks for about a decade.

Maybe enforcement and not state law is the real issue here?

I will commend Rich and Greg for teaming up to combat the ‘Junky’ casinos, but at the end of the day, you will probably lose in court, and I am willing to wager on it.

Like the recent property tax hike and ignoring the zoning amendments when it comes to Wholestone Foods, it seems the city council only does the right thing when it suits them;

Tuesday’s council meeting finally saw a vote on a series of video lottery terminal requests and malt beverage license approvals applied for by Commonwealth Gaming and Holdings that, taken together, would comprise four establishments holding 10 video lottery terminals each, all within one building near East 69th Street and South Cliff Avenue.

“It just completely violates the spirit and the intent and the letter of state law, which is that it’s supposed to be separate businesses with 10 machines,” said Neitzert in an interview.

So why did you vote for this reach around of state law in the past? The city council has had the ability to limit Telephone Booth VL casinos for years, and NOW they are realizing they can do these limitations?!

Part of the issue is a 2019 ordinance passed by council which allowed separate casinos operating under one roof to share cooler space and employee access points.

It was a compromise that followed several denials of licenses that CGH had applied for, as city ordinance says alcoholic beverages cannot move from one establishment to another, and that walls must separate businesses that hold licenses to sell alcohol.

Neitzert, who voted in favor of the ordinance, said CGH had always said they were looking to operate two establishments under one roof, not three, four or five.

I figured when they passed that ordinance that casinos would find a way to expand it even more. While I wasn’t a 100% sure this would happen, I initially opposed the change because the city council should be doing everything in their legal power and authority to limit VL casinos and not just automatically approve new venues when they come before the council. While they like to cry about a couple of Med MJ dispensaries they seem to have no issue with a junky VL casino on every corner in this city. Video Lottery has destroyed more lives in this state than MJ could ever do and the tax revenue just gets wasted in the general fund. Besides contributing to more crime, addiction and bankruptcy, a job at a casino isn’t exactly a career move unless you own the place.

When the latter two video lottery terminal requests came to a vote, they failed in a 5-3 vote, with Councilors Curt Soehl, Marshall Selberg and Alex Jensen voting in their favor.

And you gotta wonder what these three clowns were thinking? Further proof our city council is NOT truly citizen representatives.

A few years ago the council took the idiotic step of allowing two separate casinos in the same building with a door separating them. State law says you can only have a maximum of 10 machines per casino space/address. So they pull this little trick of separating the casinos by suite number and they can max out machines.

I knew if they approved this with all their fancy conditional uses like separate bathrooms, entrances, chain link fences, separate coolers, etc, that the sh!t would run down hill. I think there have been several applications put in for other locations.

Tonight, councilor Starr had had enough and 5 out of the 7 councilors present decided to defer the use until they can hear from the applicant who was not present tonight. (Jensen and Soehl voted it down)

As you can see below, the applicant wants to put 4 casinos next to each other in the same strip mall with different suite addresses so they can max out at 40 machines.

I have long known the council to be nuttless when it comes to challenging the state when it comes to telephone booth casinos, but isn’t it time they put a middle finger up and finally say we have had enough of these sh!tholes. Let the state sue us! I welcome the lawsuit! Maybe we can finally allow the city council to legally tell VL casino applicants to go away and stop any new casinos from opening in this city ever again.

The council can deny the applicant based on suitable location, we will see how this dog and pony show goes.