DEADWOOD — The mayor of South Dakota's gambling hub has asked Deadwood's casinos to close while the state battles the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In an announcement from Deadwood Mayor David Ruth Jr. on Monday, Ruth asked for casinos to "close temporarily until the COVID-19 threat has passed." In his request, Ruth cited the announcement from U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on Monday that warned that "this week, it's going to get bad," regarding the spread of the virus, and Adams said not enough people are taking the threat seriously.
Ruth, who has been mayor since 2018, also asked that restaurants stop dine-in services and for bars to "immediately cease all on-sale alcohol sales."
Gov. Kristi Noem has allowed municipalities to take the authority to shut down businesses during the pandemic and let businesses make their own choices on staying open. Ruth said he is not yet mandating closures.
"I strongly encourage you to take these actions immediately in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States and across South Dakota," Ruth wrote. "Again, at this time, you have the authority to make your own decisions with respect to your operations. I hope that you will make a wise decision in an effort to help everyone."
More than 90 percent of the nation's commercial casinos have closed, according to the American Gaming Association, and a similar number of tribal casinos have also closed nationally.
As of Monday, nine of Deadwood's 25 casinos remain open in some manner, according to gambling news website usbets.com. In South Dakota, five of nine tribal casinos remain open, according to a Daily Republic survey.