South Dakota's bars and taverns are allowed to have up to 10 video lottery terminals (VLT's) that offer the following games: poker, keno, blackjack and bingo. These machines are the same as regular video gaming devices but are called lottery terminals because they are regulated by the state's lottery commission which receives a share of each machine's revenue. The machines accept cash but don't pay out in cash; instead, they print out a receipt which must be taken to a cashier. Slot machines, as well as blackjack and poker are only permitted at Indian casinos and in Deadwood.
Deadwood was once most famous for being the home of Wild Bill Hickok who was shot to death while playing cards in the No. 10 Saloon. The hand he held at the time was two pairs: black aces and eights, which ever since is usually referred to as a "dead man's hand." Wild Bill is buried in the local cemetery along with another local celebrity: Calamity Jane. Today, Deadwood is still well known for those colorful characters, but it's also known as the home of slot machines, poker and blackjack ever since voters approved those forms of gambling more than six years ago. When the first casinos opened on November 1, 1989 the promoters expected betting of $4 million a year. The estimate was a little low because in the first two years alone the betting totaled more than $500 million!
All of the buildings in the downtown area are required to conform with the city's authentic 1880's architecture and many of the casinos are located in historic structures. As a matter of fact, the No. 10 Saloon is still there and you can actually gamble in the same spot where old Wild Bill bit the dust! One of the casinos - Midnight Star, is owned by movie actor Kevin Costner and his brother, Dan. South Dakota law limits each casino licensee to a maximum of 30 slot machines in a building and no business is allowed to hold more than three licenses. The law also limits blackjack, poker, let it ride and 3-card poker bets to a maximum of $5, however, you are permitted to play more than one hand at a time. In addition to the Deadwood casinos, there are also nine Indian casinos in South Dakota. These casinos are also subject to the $5 maximum bet restrictions except for Dakota Sioux which offers a $100 betting limit on blackjack.
Here are statistics from the South Dakota Commission on Gaming for the payback percentages on all of Deadwood's slot machines for the five-month period from January 1 through May 31, 2000:
Most casinos are open from 8am until 12am Sunday through Thursday and 8am until 2am on the weekends. Unless otherwise noted, all casinos offer slot machines and video poker. The minimum gambling age is 21 (18 at Indian casinos that don't serve alcohol). For South Dakota tourism information call (800) 952-3625. For information on visiting Deadwood call the city's Chamber of Commerce at (800) 999-1876.