South Dakota Voters Could Approve Casino Games

If the South Dakota legislature approves, this November voters statewide could pass a constitutional amendment allowing Deadwood casinos to offer roulette, keno and craps. Supporters said the games are needed so Deadwood can compete with casinos in Colorado and Iowa.

The South Dakota House State Affairs Committee recently voted 10-1 to approve a proposed constitutional amendment that would let voters statewide decide whether Deadwood casinos may offer roulette, keno and craps. Currently Deadwood casinos offer slot machines, poker and blackjack. The full legislature would have to approve the measure for it to appear on the November ballot.

Supporters said the additional games would allow Deadwood to compete with casinos in Colorado, Iowa and other states, and also that craps and roulette attract younger players.

Under state law, tribal casinos can offer the same games allowed in Deadwood. “This bill will help Deadwood, but it will also help the Native American casinos,” Deadwood Mayor Chuck Turbiville said. Seth Pearman, tribal attorney and lobbyist for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, noted the tribe’s casino in eastern South Dakota has felt the impact of gaming in other states.

Also in South Dakota, the state gaming commission recently asked the legislature to pass a bill making it a Class 1 misdemeanor to enter a casino after being placed on the casino exclusion list. Punishment would be a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Executive Director Larry Eliason said current law allows the commission to exclude people convicted of felonies, cheating or misconduct and those who would damage public trust in the gaming industry. He said the commission asked for the bill because currently there is no penalty for excluded people who re-enter casinos. The new language “would allow the casino to call the police and have the person arrested. It’s just to give the casino and the commission a tool to help police the industry,” Eliason stated.

Mike Rodman, director of the Deadwood Gaming Association, said casino operators support the proposal. “It puts teeth in the exclusion list,” Rodman said.

Eliason said six people are now on the exclusion list but no one has been added recently. The six include an individual who stole keys to a casino’s slot machines, a person who stole money from another player and someone who helped an underage player enter a poker tournament.