Philip's Steakhouse & Lounge latest video lottery burglary target

Philip is one of 19 locations in South Dakota that have been hit by one or more burglars targeting establishments that have video lottery machines.

Philip now stands at three such break-ins. The most recent business burglarized was The Steakhouse & Lounge.

During the early hours of Tuesday, May 9, the lower glass of its front door was shattered with a basketball-sized rock. The thief, or thieves, crawled through the opening, then took money out of a locked metal cabinet and out of the three video lottery machines. Coins were left in the open cash register. The person, or persons, then crawled back out of the front door. The entire time involved is estimated to be less than 15 minutes.

"I would hope that anyone in Philip, or any other town, who saw someone or something that made them nervous or to think things were not quite right, would call the local law officials. They can then check things out," said Philip Police Chief Kit Graham.

"If you see an out-of-place vehicle, please contact the local law enforcement," said Haakon County Sheriff Larry Hanes.

Around 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, May 17, Rock 'N Roll Lanes bowling alley was broken into for a second time this year. The same routine was followed by the thief, or thieves. The west side door, which had not been fully repaired since the March 21 break-in, was most likely used again to enter the building. The four video lottery machines were emptied and the escape was probably again through the double doors behind the bowling alley.

Just Tammy's Bar and Grill in Midland was broken into on April 9. The establishment once had video lottery machines, but did not at the time of the burglary.

Mike Mueller, spokesman for South Dakota Lottery, said, "This crime, as is any crime, is unacceptable. It hurts the business owner, the community and the industry as a whole. It is a very big deal, especially in any local community, though it does not very much impact the overall video lottery playing or revenue across the state."

South Dakota Lottery is a division of the South Dakota Department of Revenue and Regulation. According to Mueller, since a person must be 21 years or older to play video lottery machines, it is a regulation that a business applying for a video lottery establishment license must have an on-sale liquor license. People under the age of 21 would supposedly not be in the establishment, thus would not be able to play the video lottery machines.

A business must pay $50 when applying for an establishment license. Upon approval, the establishment then pays $100 for the license, and must do so annually as a license renewal fee. The business owner must pass a criminal background investigation, must be financially sound and must owe no back taxes.

Local governments are allowed to establish a fee per machine to the establishments, not to exceed $50 per machine. The City of Philip charges the maximum amount, with 29 lottery machines within Philip's jurisdiction. State law allows any single establishment to have no more than 10 machines.

The net machine income (NMI) is cash in the machines minus cash out of the machines (winnings). The owner of the establishment and the owner of the machine - and they are most likely different - split 50 percent of the NMI.

The State of South Dakota currently receives 50 percent of the NMI, with 49.5 percent of it going into the Property Tax Reduction Fund and the other half percent going to operation costs. For the fiscal year of 2008, there were 1,478 establishments and a total of 8.969 terminals. The 2008 total NMI was $224,661,209, thus the establishments and terminal owners split $112,330,605 and the state got $111,207,298 after operation costs.