Kristina Barker/Journal staff Players take a seat at a poker table at the Silverado Franklin Hotel on Friday night Oct. 23, 2009.

PIERRE -- A bill hiking betting limits from $100 to $1,000 in Deadwood passed the full Senate on Monday.

The measure aims to generate funds for the historic city. Sen. Tom Nelson, the bill's primary sponsor, said Deadwood has taken a financial hit as a result of the gaming limit, smoking ban and customers choosing to gamble at other sites including the Grand Falls Casino in Iowa near Sioux Falls.

Gambling was prohibited in Deadwood between 1947 and 1989. When betting returned in 1989, the technology of slot machines had advanced.

"The $100 limit stands as a barrier to Deadwood as we continue to grow," said Nelson, R-Lead. "When gambling programs are written, the odds are calculated, the random generation of winning is set, the probabilities of winning are all calculated in and those are written for Nevada and New Jersey - places with no limits. So we're at the bottom of the food chain in competitive products."

In the 1800s, Deadwood was a beacon of mining potential. Miners flocked to the city when gold was discovered in the Black Hills. Now, the community that once attracted outlaws, gunslingers and gold seekers wants to bring gamblers back.

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"We could attract national poker tournaments and media attention," Nelson said. "The higher-stakes player stays well, eats well and spends well here."

Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, said he's usually against "addiction lottery" for funding, but he said the state already approves of professional gambling. He urged other senators to support the funding potential for Deadwood.

Senators voted 24-10, sending the bill to the House.


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