While much of the focus of the effects of the coronavirus on the casino industry has centered around Las Vegas, a small town in South Dakota was being hit just as hard. Deadwood, SD, was saved from becoming a ghost town by casinos, and there was worry that the pandemic would shut down the town for good.
That fear was put aside on Thursday as several casinos were allowed to reopen for business. The Deadwood City Commission voted to allow local businesses to resume operations, as long as they were willing to follow strict health and safety guidelines.
Deadwood Gaming Association director Mike Rodman expressed his excitement that casinos were allowed to reopen so quickly. He was quick to point out that customers have begun to visit the businesses, but it is one a much smaller scale than in the past.
There are many safeguards that have been put in place by each location, and they will be checked by the Deadwood City Commission. The health and safety of both customers and employees is the most important factor in this process.
Hand sanitizing stations will be found throughout each casino, and are available to customers. Casinos have also had to ramp up their cleaning and sanitizing efforts to maintain cleanliness.
All table games are restricted to no more than four players. Players must leave a space of two slot machines open between them when playing on the casino floor.
Employees that are working at the table games are required to wear a mask, but customers do not have to wear them. Several of the owners have noted that a majority of the customers have chosen to wear them.
Several tables were removed or relocated from bars and restaurants to provide sufficient space. Anyone that is experiencing any signs of sickness is encouraged not to enter the property.
Another important part of the casinos reopening in Deadwood is it gives a huge portion of the residents of South Dakota their jobs back. Close to 70 percent of employees have already returned to their jobs, and the rest of the workforce is expected to be back to work by the end of the month.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem also made an announcement to tribes on Friday. She ordered tribal nations to remove their COVID-19 checkpoints that were set up on highways throughout the state.
As of Friday, 31 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 in South Dakota. The state has recorded over 3,100 positive tests of the coronavirus since mid-March.
Sports Betting to Be Decided in November
Casinos might be back up and running throughout the state, but sports betting is still illegal throughout South Dakota. There is a chance that those rules will change as early as November when a final decision is left up to the voters.
Senate Joint Resolution was approved by both the House and Senate in early March, and it will place a sports betting referendum on the ballot in November. If the referendum passes, sports betting will be legalized at the tribal casinos throughout the state, and at all of the casinos in Deadwood.
There is a strong belief that sports betting will be approved by the voters, as several other gambling referendums have been passed over the years. Allowing Deadwood to open up casinos was approved by the voters, and they also recently chose to expand the number of games that can be offered at the casinos.
Financial experts predict that South Dakota could bring in over $2 million in revenue from sports betting each year if the industry is launched before 2022.