Bet limits of $1,000 on way for Deadwood casinosPIERRE — The bet limit for Deadwood casinos would rise 10-fold to $1,000, and the three-casino restriction on ownership interest would be erased, under legislation endorsed Thursday by a state Senate panel.
By: Bob Mercer, The Daily Republic
PIERRE — The bet limit for Deadwood casinos would rise 10-fold to $1,000, and the three-casino restriction on ownership interest would be erased, under legislation endorsed Thursday by a state Senate panel.
No one testified against either of the proposed changes during a hearing by the Senate committee on commerce and energy. Senators voted 7-0 in favor of the both measures.
The full Senate could consider them as soon as this afternoon. The prime sponsor of the two bills is Sen. Tom Nelson, R-Lead.
The South Dakota Commission on Gaming considered submitting legislation to repeal the three-casino limit.
Harry Christianson of Rapid City, a former owner of Deadwood establishments and now a member of the regulatory commission, said the change was an idea he brought to the commission.
He said his company when it began in 1990 had three retail licenses and it took “about 15 seconds” to realize the limitation could be circumvented by making a space lease-back arrangement with an employee.
He described the license limit as a charade.
“It was there for one reason, and that was to limit the participants in that industry to the ones who were already there,” Christianson said.
Legalized gambling began in Deadwood more than 20 years with a $5 bet limit. That rose to $100 in 2000.
Nelson, the general manager of a Deadwood casino, said the $5 limit was intended to be more attractive than the $2 charitable bets in North Dakota at the time.
He said the $100 limit now is a barrier, because slot-machine programs have to be written differently for Deadwood, and therefore Deadwood gets new games later.
Competition and the smoking ban have pushed Deadwood into a decline for the first time, with a 6 percent drop last year in gaming activity. Nelson said the decision was made to pursue a higher bet limit rather than seek an exemption to the smoking ban.
Bet limits in other states currently are North Dakota $250, Minnesota $1,000 and Colorado $100, while Iowa and Nevada have no limits.
“I think this is an excellent opportunity. I see no downside to it,” Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, said.