Deadwood, South Dakota became the first commercial casino market in the US to reopen on Thursday, May 7, after receiving the go ahead from city commissioners earlier this week.
Deadwood was also the last gaming market in the country to close after officials shut the entire industry down in March to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
City commissioners voted to authorize the move on May 4, in tandem with mandatory requirements for additional employee screening and social distancing measures.
Employees will have their temperatures checked after reporting to work and will be required to answer questions about new symptoms and recent travel.
Guidelines encourage employees to wear masks and gloves whenever possible. Patrons will be supplied with masks and gloves, upon request. New signage and sanitation stations will be placed strategically throughout the casino floor.
To comply with social distancing guidelines, some casinos may turn off slot machines or remove seats to ensure six feet of space between guests who aren’t being quarantined together.
Other operators may leave all machines on and enforce the six-foot distance rule on a case-by-case basis.
Seats will be removed at poker, blackjack, roulette and baccarat tables to enforce social distancing requirements, with two or three players to a table.
List of casinos open for business
Deadwood area casinos that planned to reopen Thursday include Cadillac Jack’s, Deadwood Mountain Grand, Deadwood Station, Gold Dust, The Lodge, Hickok’s and Tin Lizzie.
Buffalo Bodega planned to reopen Friday, while Gold Country will open for business on May 13, and the Bullock Hotel on May 15. Deadwood Gulch will not reopen until May 16, at least.
Area casinos are allowed to offer a full contingent of casino games, including slot machines, table games and poker rooms, however not all operators have chosen to do so, at least at this time.
Of the four Deadwood casinos with poker rooms, only Cadillac Jack’s planned to reopen its poker venue on May 7. The operator said seats would be removed from poker tables and games played shorthanded.
Silverado plans to reopen Thursday, but will not open its poker room until a later date. Saloon No. 10 will not reopen any part of its operation until the end of the month, and the Lodge has yet to announce its plans.
Getting to Deadwood won’t be easy
Located near Black Hills National Forest and known for its gold rush history and wild west icons such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, Deadwood is a popular tourist destination.
The city didn’t just clear the way for casinos to reopen. Restaurants and bars, motels and hotels (offering discounted rates this month), retail and gift shops, and even some local attractions received the go ahead to reopen this week, as well.
Out-of-state tourism was alive and well in Deadwood up until the last casino closed on March 25. And as the only commercial casino market currently open in the US, sidelined gamers across the nation will no doubt consider making a pilgrimage.
Unfortunately, travel to and from Deadwood is not easy at the best of times and with air traffic limited due to COVID-19 precautions, many out-of-state bettors will find travel even more difficult now.
There is no airport in Deadwood. Although the Rapid City airport is only an hour away, curtailed flight schedules have reduced flights in and out of Rapid City to just a few a day.
Sidelined gamblers from the neighboring state of Iowa can make the road trip relatively easily, however. Deadwood is a little over six and 1/2 hours from Sioux City, and around 10 hours from Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.