- Associated Press - Saturday, February 1, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - At least one South Dakota sports bar won’t be taking bets on Super Bowl Sunday, and the owner says it’s bad for business.

The owner of Thirsty’s in Rapid City was warned earlier this year that he could be prosecuted if customers participate in a football pool and that includes the big game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo said he contacted Thirsty’s after receiving a complaint earlier this football season about the bar’s weekly pools. The pools are a form of gambling that is a misdemeanor offense in South Dakota and punishable by up to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

“We sent him a letter that said, ‘Look, you want to be very cautious about this’ and directed him to the state statute,” Vargo told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1n4jE6L).

Thirsty’s owner Frank Morrison said it didn’t go over well with his patrons. He said when he told his customers “no more pools,” they took their business to another bar.

“A lot of them were mad at me,” Morrison said, adding that between 40 and 45 people would come to his Main Street bar to watch football games and play in the pools before he received the letter from Vargo.

Sports pools, according to the state’s attorney’s office, fall into the same category as lotteries and only charitable organizations can legally conduct them. The games also need the approval of city or county governments.

Until last September, Morrison had a group of regulars who organized the weekly football pools. He kept the pool cards and cash at the bar, but they managed the pool, he said.

Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said his department rarely receives complaints about sports pools and is not looking to make any arrests.

“It’s not something that gets reported, even on an occasional basis,” he said. “To my knowledge, we don’t have any investigations going on.”

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com