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Deadwood gaming revenue showed strong increases since inception

The Deadwood gaming industry has shown consistent, strong revenue growth since South Dakota voters approved legalized casino gambling in the historic town in the 1988 election, a Black Hills Knowledge Network analysis shows.

Casinos opened their doors in Deadwood on Nov. 1, 1989. After 1990 — the first full year of legalized gambling — revenue more than doubled, from $25.6 million in gross revenue (in inflation-adjusted dollars) in 1990 to $56.6 million in 1991.

Gross revenue is the amount of money still held by a casino after winnings are paid to gamblers. In other words, it is the total amount wagered less winnings paid back to gamblers.

On a chart created by the Black Hills Knowledge Network, the growth makes for a near-vertical upward graph both in the industry's early years and during the 2000s. The chart shows both inflation-adjusted and non-inflation-adjusted revenue figures.

By 2009, gross revenue for Deadwood's gaming industry topped $111 million. This followed a multi-year downturn that followed strong growth in the early 1990s, topping out at a then-industry high of nearly $72 million (inflation adjusted) in 1995. Growth resumed starting in 1999 and stayed strong through the earliest months of the Great Recession.

Gross revenue declined slightly from 2009 to 2010, going from $111.35 million to $110.76 million in 2010. Revenues continued to slide in 2011, hitting $106.2 million, and they have essentially been flat since -- $104.3 million in 2012 and $106.8 million in 2013.

The decline and flattening for Deadwood casinos matches an industry trend that has coincided with the slow recovery from a nationwide recession and, in South Dakota, a smoking ban approved by voters in 2010.

South Dakota voters will consider an industry-backed ballot measure in November that would expand the games allowed to add keno, craps and roulette to slot machines, poker and blackjack.