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Deadwood casinos led the nation in economic recovery, report shows
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Deadwood casinos led the nation in economic recovery, report shows

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Deadwood gambling

In this Aug. 9, 2010 file photo, dealer Mary Kay Viles lays out cards for a gambler at the Silverado Casino in Deadwood. South Dakota led the nation in having the lowest annual revenue drop in 2020 for casino revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the casino and gaming industry nationwide, a new report shows. However, the casinos in Deadwood had the smallest revenue decline of any state, showing a rapid economic recovery.

The American Gaming Association released their State of the States 2021: The AGA Survey of the Commercial Casino Industry report on Thursday. The report provides an economic analysis of U.S. commercial gaming in 2020.

Gaming revenues declined by 31% nationwide, but South Dakota's casinos in Deadwood were only down 4.5%, the report shows.

Deadwood Gaming Association executive director Mike Rodman said the report shows how strong Deadwood recovered from COVID-19 closures and the messaging that South Dakota was open for business worked.

"This report shows not only the resiliency of Deadwood as a gaming destination, but also Deadwood gaming’s frontline workers’ dedication in providing an outstanding Deadwood experience in the most difficult of times,” Rodman said. "We also want to applaud the Deadwood Chamber/SD State Tourism joint marketing efforts and Governor Noem’s pro-business approach during the pandemic.”

The economic rebound of Deadwood's gambling scene continues to thrive, as April's gaming handle showed a 30.53% increase over April 2019. The casinos were forced to close on March 25, 2020 through May 7, 2020, after the city of Deadwood passed an emergency ordinance shuttering the casinos during the onset of the pandemic.

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According to a report released Thursday from the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, gamblers put nearly $110 million in slot machines and $6.7 million in table game bets. In all, visitors to Deadwood's casinos spent more than $116 million on wagers in April.

Slot machine handle increased 30.77% and table game handle increased by 26.82% when compared to April 2019, the report showed.

The casinos had a taxable adjusted gross revenue of $10.6 million, with $957,504.33 in taxes due to various state, county and local government entities.

"Deadwood continues its strong growth in gaming revenues as South Dakota gears up for an exceptional summer tourism season,” Rodman said. "This continued growth trend highlights Deadwood as a gaming destination with national appeal.”

Through the first four months of 2021, gamblers in Deadwood have spent $459 million on wagers, an increase of 87.52% over the same time frame in 2020. Slot machines handled more than $430 million, an 88% increase over the same time period in 2020. Table games have seen $28.3 million in bets made, an 80.49% gain from 2020.

Rodman said the casinos rewarded players with $1.5 million in "free play" during April.

The report shows Deadwood's 2,536 slot machines awarded players with nearly $10 million in winnings, the majority of which came from penny slot machines. Deadwood has 91 table games with black jack, poker, craps and roulette. According to the report, gamblers won more than $1.3 million, the majority of which came from black jack and house-banked poker games.

Contact Nathan Thompson at nathan.thompson@rapidcityjournal.com.

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