DEADWOOD | Could the HBO production of Deadwood: The Movie be at least partially responsible for the continued bump in gaming revenues in the real town of Deadwood?

Mike Rodman, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association, believes so.

According to statistics recently released by the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, the June 2019 gaming handle showed a 5.81 percent increase, with slot machine handle increasing by 6.28 percent when compared to June 2018.

The table game handle was down slightly at -1.19 percent when compared to 2018 June’s table game numbers.

Rodman said the uptick is part of a year-to-date increase of 3.60% midway through 2019.

“Some of it is the publicity surrounding the HBO movie,” said Rodman of the film, a continuation of the HBO series of the same name that ran for three seasons from 2004 to 2006.

“Obviously, that puts Deadwood on the map again,” he said.

According to a news release, Deadwood gaming operators rewarded players with $1,562,778 in "free-play" for the month of June, leaving taxable adjusted gross revenues of $8,941,318 for June of this year.

Additionally, Deadwood Hotel’s occupancy rate was down slightly in June when compared with June 2018 numbers, according to a monthly release by Deadwood's City Finance Office.

Hotels in Deadwood had an occupancy rate of 69.08 percent for June 2019, which is a 1.04 percent decrease when compared with June 2018.

But that's not necessarily a negative, Rodman said.

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"While Deadwood’s hotel occupancy rate is down, Deadwood still accommodated more visitors," said Rodman. "Because of additional hotel room inventory this June over last June, Deadwood hotel operators rented 1,409 more room nights than last June."

Deadwood's June occupancy rate change was better than the national June hotel occupancy decrease of 1.3 percent, Rodman added.

“However, Deadwood’s occupancy rate was below the national hotel occupancy rate of 73.5 percent for June 2019," he said.

Rodman credited the opening of the new Tru By Hilton with providing more hospitality inventory for Deadwood.

“That gives us a little more capacity,” he said.

The increase in gaming comes even with an unseasonably cool, wet spring and resulting road construction delays in and around Deadwood.

“Certainly the weather has had an impact and the construction has created some bottlenecks for us,” Rodman said. “That’s why we’re so pleased with our numbers that we’re overcoming some of those issues.”

Deadwood and the Black Hills now move into the busiest part of the summer season, with the Days of ’76 celebration, the Sturgis motorcycle rally, Kool Deadwood Nites and Deadwood Jam, a rock, reggae and blues music festival in September, all events expected to bring strong numbers of travelers to town.

Construction of the city’s new town gathering point, Outlaw Plaza, is expected to be complete this year.

“We continue to work on our marketing and events and fine-tune those, and I think all that’s paid off,” he said. “I think we’ve got some positive things happening.”

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