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Deadwood Casinos Let 402 Machine Licenses Lapse

Josh Haiar

Gambling surged last month in Deadwood, but casinos ran into a problem when the calendar turned over. 

License fees were due July 1 on gambling machines, and some casinos could not afford to pay up. 

Casinos have about 2,800 gambling machines in Deadwood. The annual license fee is $2,000 for each machine. 

When the deadline arrived, casinos decided to let 402 of the licenses lapse. That represents $804,000 in licensing fees. 

Mike Rodman is executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association. He said casinos could not afford to renew all the licenses after losing about $11 million during an April shutdown

For now, Rodman said, the state Gaming Commission is allowing the unlicensed, turned-off machines to remain on the gaming floors. 

“They’re allowing them through the end of the year, rather than going into storage, which is what they normally do,” Rodman said, “with the hopes that as cash flow improves, that some of those 402 devices will get relicensed.” 

While some of those machines were still operating in June, casinos had a banner month. Gamblers wagered about $113 million in Deadwood. That’s a 14 percent increase over last June. 

Rodman said Deadwood was one of the first gambling destinations in the country to reopen during the pandemic. He said that pushed the numbers higher. 

He said the numbers could level off with fewer machines and more gambling destinations back open around the country. 

Seth supervises SDPB's beat reporters and newscast team. He works at SDPB's Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.
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