South Dakota Casinos Finally Follow Suit And Close Doors

Posted on March 24, 2020 - Last Updated on October 30, 2020

All 465 of the country’s commercial casinos will be closed by Wednesday at noon.

Deadwood, South Dakota’s Mayor David Ruth Jr. called on operators to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, per a press release from the American Gaming Association (AGA).

The casinos in Deadwood were among the final holdouts in the US.

More than 90% of the nation’s commercial casinos had temporarily closed as of Monday, but nine of Deadwood’s 25 shops remained open to varying degrees, some suspended poker play and table games.

Five of South Dakota’s nine tribal casinos also remained open, according to The Daily Republic survey.

South Dakota battles the virus

Gov. Ruth Jr. called for all casinos to close on Monday while the state battles the virus. He urged casinos to “close temporarily until the COVID-19 threat has passed,” citing US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams’ warning that “this week, it’s going to get bad.”

Ruth Jr., in a written statement, issued the three following requests:

  1. Stop allowing patrons the option of dining in at restaurants immediately. The option of takeout, curbside service or delivery may still be used.
  2. Immediately cease all on-sale alcohol sales.
  3. Close down your casinos temporarily until the COVID-19 threat has passed.

Ruth Jr. added that the businesses have the authority to make their own decisions. He added, “The time to take things more seriously is now.”

Taking cues from Nevada

Various Deadwood casinos kept their doors open much longer than most.

Meanwhile, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered the state’s 440 licensed properties to close last Tuesday in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic is having a massive impact on the gaming industry. It is expected to continue into the near future.

There will be no operating commercial casinos by Wednesday. The closures have affected an estimated total of 616,000 people who were direct employees, per the AGA.

If they remain closed for the next two months, AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said in the statement that the US economy would miss out on an estimated $43.5 billion of economic activity.

“The federal government must act swiftly and comprehensively to get America’s hospitality employees, and the small businesses that support them, back to work,” Miller said.

“Gaming employees, their families and communities are bearing the brunt of this economic standstill and will continue to suffer if Congress and the administration don’t take immediate action.”

AGA on the economic impact

Here are some further details provided by the AGA on the expected economic fallout:

  • Casino closures risk nearly $74 billion in total income annually for workers and their families.
  • Casino gaming supports $41 billion in annual tax revenue and tribal revenue sharing nationwide; essential support for local hospitals, first responders and vital public services.
  • Half the jobs the industry supports at non-gaming businesses, such as restaurants and local shops, will be dramatically affected by local casino closures.
  • Casino gaming is vital to local small businesses, delivering $52 billion annually in small business revenue, including construction, manufacturing, retail and wholesale firms.

“Gaming is an economic engine, employing millions of local residents, generating community investment through vital tax revenue and supporting small businesses in communities all across the country,” Miller added.

It remains to be seen when commercial casinos will reopen as the US continues to practice social distancing for the foreseeable future. Every major North American sports league is closed, too, with no definitive timeline in place to resume play, which is a huge blow to the legal sports betting boom.

We will continue to provide updates on these quickly evolving circumstances.

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