Deadwood gaming numbers take a hit

DEADWOOD – After taking a COVID-19-induced month-long sabbatical, gaming revenues in Deadwood rebounded in May with reportable statistics reflecting roughly a 15% down for the same month in 2019 and an overall decline of 24% for the year, according to information released Friday by the South Dakota Commission on Gaming.

With gaming establishments shuttered March 25, due to the pandemic, March numbers took a 20% hit compared to March 2019, with a $69 million handle, followed up by no gaming activity whatsoever in April, a month that saw an $89 million handle in 2019.

The residual effects of COVID-19 closures were still felt by gaming establishments in May after properties opened back up on May 7, and gamers visiting Deadwood last month dropped right at $88 million in machines and on tables, roughly a 15% decrease compared to May 2019’s $104 million handle, resulting in $7.6 million in taxable adjusted gross revenues for the industry in May 2020.

Gaming revenue in May 2019 was up about 5% from May 2018.

Of the revenue earned, 9%, or $684,478, was collected as state tax and distributed to various entities across the state.

“The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown continue to add up for the Deadwood gaming industry,” said Mike Rodman, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association. “While we are pleased that Deadwood’s patrons are returning and summer visitation continues to increase, the financial burdens of the COVID-19 shutdown will take a long time for our industry to fully recover from.”

Under the handle comparison category, in May, table games had a handle of $3.6 million, down 42% compared to May 2019 levels. Under this same category, slot machines had a handle of $85 million in May, down 13% compared to May 2019. Thus far this year, table games have had a handle of $19.3 million, a 33% decrease compared to 2019 levels, and slot machines have had a handle of $314 million, a 23% decrease compared to 2019 levels. Thus far in 2020, the collective handle in Deadwood has been $333 million, down 24% compared to the same period in 2019.

As stated in the report, approximately 2,358 slot machines accounted for roughly $85 million in coin in, with gamers winning around $77.2 million with an estimated average payout of 91%, leaving a statistical win of around $8 million for the slot category in May. The two largest contributors were 1,853 penny machines, with $64 million in coin-in, which generated roughly $6 million in statistical win and a 91% payout to players, followed by 234 dollar machines, with $9 million in coin-in, which generated roughly $621,007 in statistical win, and a 93% payout to players.

With 62 tables reporting revenue, table games generated a drop of $3.6 million in May and an estimated statistical win of $600,370, with an average payout to players of 83%. The leading revenue generator in this category was blackjack, with 25 tables reporting a drop of roughly $1.8 million and a statistical win of $209,321 with an 88% payout to players.

Three craps tables in town generated a drop of $245,484, a statistical win of $26,757, and an 89% payout to players; seven roulette tables in town generated a drop of $187,216, a statistical win of $53,893, and a 71% payout to players.

Rodman said Deadwood gaming operators rewarded players with $1,054,775 in “free-play” for the month of May


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