Deadwood can run with the high rollers now because of a law signed Thursday raising the bet limit from $100 to $1,000.

Not only can gamblers bet higher, but Deadwood will more ably compete with casinos in states such as Colorado and Iowa.

“We can play with the big boys now,” said Sen. Tom Nelson, R-Lead, who is also president of the Deadwood Gaming Association.

Deadwood’s limit now surpasses the $100 limit in Colorado. Because of the state’s proximity and large population it is a major competitor, said Caleb Arceneaux, chief executive officer of ISIS Hospitality, which owns Cadillac Jack’s and Tin Lizzie in Deadwood.

Deadwood’s increased bet limit is “going to give us an opportunity to get back some of the markets we lost previously, namely the Colorado market,” Arceneaux said.

Colorado gamblers can also play craps and roulette; Deadwood gamers can play only blackjack, poker and slot machines.

Deadwood can now also contend with high-limit places such as North Dakota with its $250 limit and Minnesota’s $1,000 limit. Iowa and Nevada are unlimited.

“It brings us back into the fold,” Arceneaux said.

The higher limit will profit casinos mostly because they can now market a novel, high-stakes experience, not necessarily because increased bets portend increased revenue. Arceneaux hopes the limit may even draw some smaller poker tournaments and media exposure.

“It is most powerful from a marketing standpoint,” Arceneaux said.

Casinos will need to adjust some operations to accommodate payouts that could be 10 times their current level.

The South Dakota Commission on Gaming will need to discuss minimum bankroll -- how much money the casino must keep on hand, either in the casino’s cage or in accounts -- and security rules, Nelson said. The commission meets this month.

Security measures could include better surveillance cameras, 24-hour manned surveillance, better supervision at the tables and more rigorous procedures for chip handling and tracking. Casinos will also have to buy higher denomination chips: something the commission will have to create regulations for.

The jump from $100 to $1,000 is not as dramatic as the last increase in 2000 from $5 to $100, Nelson said, because the previous change affected more players.

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“This is a specialized player that has the wherewithal to do this,” Nelson said of high-stakes players.

Only table games, not slot machines, will likely be affected by the bet limit, Nelson said.

Nelson and Weston Pleinis, general manager of the Lodge at Deadwood, are unsure how much the raised limit will affect casinos' revenue.

“I think it will affect a small percentage of players that come to Deadwood, but that small percentage could have a big effect on the bottom line,” Pleinis said, noting that at the Lodge a small number of regular gamers have a large impact.

The benefits may not be spread evenly among casinos, either.

“I don’t think it’s going to have that big of an impact on every place. I think it will have an impact on a few places and it won’t really have an impact on the smaller places. The high betters will go to the bigger casinos,” Pleinis said.

Those high rollers may come from what Pleinis considers Deadwood’s largest untapped market: North Dakota, where oil field workers with plenty of disposable income have little local entertainment.

Contact Aaron Orlowski at 484-7069 or aaron.orlowski@rapidcityjournal.com

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