Voters Will Consider Games at Deadwood Casinos

A small change to the South Dakota constitution in November would allow casinos in Deadwood to offer keno, craps and roulette, in addition to the current offerings of slots and table games. If the measure passes, tribal casinos also will be able to offer the games.

Casino industry officials in Deadwood, South Dakota hope statewide voters will pass a approve changing the state constitution to allow Deadwood casinos to offer keno, craps and roulette, in addition to the current offerings of slot machines and table games.

Executive Director of the Deadwood Gaming Association Mike Rodman said, “We’re very hopeful the people of South Dakota will understand that Deadwood needs those games to be competitive, particularly with those states right around us that have those games, and bring some of those players back to Deadwood.”

Rodman added, “We’re seeing that for the younger people in particular, those games, particularly roulette and craps, are more popular than poker, and so we want to make sure that we have the games that the people want to play.”

State Rep. Marc Feinstein, a co-sponsor of the measure, noted, “Why is the casino in Grand Falls so popular?  They have games we can’t play.” The constitutional amendment received bi-partisan support from both houses of the legislature. “It’s only about eight or ten words that would be added to the constitutional amendment that allowed Deadwood gaming,” Feinstein said. “It will maybe help curb our outflow of cash that goes to

If the games are permitted in Deadwood, tribal casinos in the state also will be able to offer them, under the state’s tribal gaming compacts. “Quite frankly, we’re working with those casinos because they are having the same challenges that Deadwood has, and they are as excited about getting these games as we are,” Rodman said.

In 2012 South Dakota voters gave the gaming industry a boost by raising the $100 bet limit to $1,000. Voters first approved Deadwood casinos more than 25 years ago. At the time, the area was one of just a few in the U.S. where card games and slots were legal. “Deadwood was on the cutting edge, you know. We were the third jurisdiction after Nevada and New Jersey. And then, of course, the rest of the country caught up and surpassed us. And there’s gaming virtually everywhere,” Rodman said.

Now Deadwood casinos are challenged by the spread of video lottery machines and casino-style gambling in other states and on tribal reservations. “I think there’s probably been some market share changes, and we do have a few closed store fronts right now. And we’re looking to get those reopened. And so I just think it’s part of the natural evolution of the town. We really hope this is a turnaround year for us. We’ve had a tough winter and we’re hopeful that we’re going to have a great summer,” Rodman said.

Opponents of the measure said it could lead to “predatory” gaming.