Deadwood casinos debuted legal sports betting last week. The expanded gaming is delivering an influx of new visitors to the remote historic Black Hills Gold Rush town.
September is halfway over, and the cold, long winter will soon set in. For Deadwood’s tourism industry, its busy season is during the summer months, the height of the annual calendar coming in August with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
The winter is traditionally Deadwood’s dead season. But the boutique casinos that line Main Street are hopeful that legal sports betting will help keep their businesses bustling in the coming months.
Josh Thurmes, assistant general manager of the Tin Lizzie Gaming Resort, told KOTA that an unexpected crowd descended on Deadwood during the opening week of the NFL season. Thurmes believes the traffic will continue.
The World Series is coming up … the NFL playoff season is still a long way out. All those events are just different opportunities for us in Deadwood to have these big events that typically happen in our slower time, the winter months,” Thurmes explained.
“We’re super-excited about it,” he added.
Deadwood has, for decades, lured visitors to the South Dakota tourism destination.
Many come to explore the city’s history, one of the most-visited spots being the tavern where Wild Bill Hickok was shot dead by Jack McCall while playing poker. Hickok was holding a pair of black aces and black eights, which today is referred to as the “dead man’s hand.”
Over the years, Deadwood has lost some of its luster. Casinos expanded across the US during the past two decades, and the Gold Rush town reported a decline in interest and visitors following the end of the HBO series Deadwood in 2006.
South Dakota lawmakers and Deadwood local officials are betting on sports betting to serve as a catalyst for revival.
Thirty-two states have passed laws to regulate sports betting. Operations are live in 27 states, plus the District of Columbia.
Deadwood casinos are limited to only accepting in-person retail sports bets. That puts the gaming industry at a slight competitive disadvantage to nearby Wyoming, where mobile wagering is additionally permitted.
South Dakota voters passed a ballot referendum last year to amend the state constitution to allow Deadwood casinos to operate brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. The vote additionally gave sports betting privileges to Native American tribes in the state that operate Class III gaming.
Deadwood casinos must pay the state a $5,000 licensing fee, with annual renewals at $2,000, to incorporate sports betting into their establishments. Gross gaming revenue from sports betting is subject to the same nine percent tax as other games, such as slot machines and table games.
The Deadwood Gaming Association projects that sports betting will annually generate more than $22 million in additional gross gaming revenue, $2.2 million in taxes, and approximately 150 new jobs with a combined income of $6.1 million.
Sports wagering is now available at Cadillac Jack’s, Tin Lizzie, Gold Dust, and Mustang Sally’s. Deadwood casinos expected to launch sports betting next month include The Lodge at Deadwood, Deadwood Mountain Grand, Gold Country Inn, and Deadwood Station Bunkhouse.