Deadwood Evaluates the Possibility of Adding Craps and Roulette
Some historians believe that games of luck saved the historic Black Hills town of Deadwood, which was slowly dying before legalized gaming started almost twenty years ago. Deadwood was also a part of an expanded gambling market statewide, which included Indian casino facilities across the state and smaller casino facilities featuring video lottery in towns and cities.
Now as the town of Deadwood commemorates the twentieth anniversary since gambling started in town, there is a renewed talk of adding craps and roulette to the gaming line-up in order to effectively compete with casino facilities in Colorado which were permitted to add craps and roulette in July 2009.
A series of events planned in Deadwood for this week includes a talk by Suzanne Julin, a historian who has interviewed several important figures in Deadwood for her research paper entitled "Deadwood Would Have Died". She talks to about a dozen individuals each summer as part of the oral history project of Deadwood. Julin said that what people almost always say is that without gambling, Deadwood would have slowly died.
Julin said that she thinks that it can be interpreted in different ways. One is that businesses in Deadwood are going away, their infrastructure was crumbling down rapidly and the city did not have enough resources to repair it. Some even said that the county slot would be even taken away from Deadwood if it continued to decline.
All that drastically changed in November 1989, when the first of Deadwood's casino facilities officially opened for business. To celebrate the anniversary, actors portraying historic figures like Wild Bill Hickok will fire up Main Street today, starting a weeklong celebration.
Mary Kopco, the chairwoman of the Deadwood 20th Committee, said on November 1st, 2009 that Deadwood's twenty years of legalized gambling have helped protect much of their town and provided employment opportunities for the community.
Ken Gienger, the president of the Deadwood Gaming Association, said that Deadwood casino facilities pay $40 million annually in salaries to about two thousand employees.
Since legal gaming started twenty years ago, players have wagered more than $12.7 billion in Deadwood casinos, according to Larry Eliason, the executive director of the South Dakota Gaming Commission. During that time, Deadwood casino facilities have paid $208 million in fees and taxes.
After the Gaming Commission used $21 million for its operating expenses in regulating the casino facilities, about $186 million was given to local and state governments.
Gambling officials said that some casino operators in Deadwood are considering adding the craps and roulette to their gaming line-up but they are not yet prepared to ask state voters in South Dakota for permission.
The South Dakota Constitution limits casinos in Deadwood to card games and slot machines-which include the games of blackjack and poker-so any change to permit expanded gambling would have to be approved by a statewide referendum.