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Deadwood's Miss Kitty's casino to close on Saturday

DEADWOOD (AP) — A longtime Main Street casino in the western South Dakota gambling town of Deadwood is shutting down, putting 24 full-time employees and another six part-timers out of work.

Miss Kitty's will close on Saturday, according to the Kenneth L. Keller Estate, which owns a number of Deadwood properties. The estate said it is not in a position to keep the businesses open through the winter season.

The shutdown of the 23-year-old complex also affects some restaurants and bars — the Chinatown Café and the Cantina, and the Wild Bill Steakhouse and Nugget Bar.

"The most difficult part of this decision is the effect this closing will have on our staff," Spearfish attorney Richard Pluimer, who represents the estate, said in a statement. "Many of our current employees have been with the organization for up to 15 years."

The estate will do what it can to help the workers find other jobs, Pluimer said.

Mayor Chuck Turbiville said he was shocked by the announcement.

"I had no idea. I thought everything was going well," he said. "It's very disappointing to have a casino close, especially one with that many employees.

"Hopefully we can find someone else to get into those buildings, but the worst part is the loss of the employees, especially at this time of the year when things are starting to wind down," he said. "I will do everything I can to try to find something to go in there."

The estate has two prospective buyers for the property, Pluimer said.

Tom Nelson, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association, said gambling numbers are "pretty flat" from last year but that they are up substantially from two years ago. The table betting limit in Deadwood went from $100 to $1,000 last summer.

"That was a great boost to the industry," Nelson said. "Being flat from a year ago in July, that's not a bad thing. The real teller of the tape will be the next six months to see how we end out the year."