DEADWOOD | The South Dakota Gaming Commission is taking a fresh look at regulations governing licensed gambling and hospitality operations and their potential interactions with outlaw motorcycle gangs coming to the Black Hills.
The five-member commission, at its quarterly meeting in Deadwood on Friday, said it is seeking suggestions from the gaming and hospitality industry on changes to regulations, which currently bar licensed gaming establishments from doing business with “persons of notorious or unsavory reputation,” the regulations state.
“In an overabundance of caution, we’re looking at outlaw motorcycle gangs and what rules and regulations should we have in Deadwood that continue to keep people safe,” said Mike Rodman, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association.
“Given what’s happened in other gaming jurisdictions like Las Vegas, there’s just more sensitivity to making sure we’re doing the right thing."
Caleb Arceneaux, CEO of Liv Hospitality, which operates Cadillac Jacks Resort of Deadwood, said the hotel responded to a call to bid on hosting an internationally known motorcycle gang for a national gathering in Deadwood later this year.
Arceneaux said Cadillac Jacks was the successful bidder and made an agreement to host the group.
But that prompted an email from Craig Sparrow, gaming commission director of enforcement, citing state regulations threatening disciplinary action for any licensed state gaming establishment “catering to, assisting, employing, or associating with, either socially or in business affairs, persons of notorious or unsavory reputation,” the regulation reads in part.
The regulation also denies association with persons “who have extensive police records, persons who have defied congressional investigative committees or other officially constituted bodies acting on behalf of the United States or any state, or persons who are associated with or support known criminal organizations.”
Arceneaux said Cadillac Jacks decided against hosting the group.
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Gaming commission executive secretary Larry B. Eliason said the commission took up the issue because of the large numbers of people coming to the Black Hills, especially during the Sturgis motorcycle rally.
“It’s common knowledge that the Sturgis motorcycle rally draws a lot of people to the area, including virtually every organization that’s been identified by law enforcement as outlaw motorcycle gangs involved in criminal activities,” Eliason said.
The commission, Rodman said, is not necessarily concerned with individuals or small groups who may be associated with gangs coming into town during the August motorcycle rally or any other time of the year.
“The motorcycle folks enjoy Deadwood and we enjoy having them,” Rodman said. “We just want to make sure we’re keeping it safe for everybody.”
Liv Hospitality attorney Roger Tellinghuisen suggested the commission offer guidance on dealing with individuals who may call to make reservations for themselves or a very small group, while not disclosing belonging to a gang.
“Give the operators some guidance in what they can do,” Tellinghuisen said.
“We’re trying to do it the other way around,” said commission vice-chairman Dennis McFarland of Sioux Falls. “We’re letting the industry write some suggestions, rather than the commission passing some rules that are unenforceable, because the industry knows a lot more than this commission does."
Eliason asked that suggestions on changes to the regulations regarding outlaw motorcycle groups be submitted to the commission by March 16.
The issue will be taken up at the commission’s next meeting, set for March 27, at a location to be determined, he said.