Deadwood was the first commercial gaming market to reopen after the COVID-19 closures. It is also the first to report revenues, which help show a reasonable recovery during its first 24 days back in business.
Deadwood gaming revenues in May were down 14.8 percent when compared to the previous year. However, the properties were closed for the first six days of last month. This make the comparison closer to normal when accounting for this.
In May 2019, Deadwood casinos won nearly $9.7 million. This equals an average of $322,756 per day. In May 2020, the total statistical win was nearly $8.2 million. This average is $340,656 per day.
The difference in averages per day between the years is about two percent in favor of 2020. However, the days closed in 2020 would typically be the slowest ones of the month as tourism in the Black Hills generally increases as May gets closer to Memorial Day Weekend.
Several factors affected May 2020 Deadwood gaming revenues
The shorter gaming month was not the only reason revenues were down. Prorated for the month, table games took a hit of 42 percent, compared to a loss of 13 percent for slots. Nearly 500 fewer slot machines were live in May 2020 when compared to the previous year.
There were 37 fewer table games in action in May 2020 when compared to 2019. One reason for this is that Deadwood Mountain Grand, The Lodge at Deadwood, Mineral Palace and Saloon No. 10 did not open with table games. Silverado did not open its craps table.
All these casinos have since opened table games, except Saloon No. 10. Silverado’s craps table remains closed.
There were 17 fewer blackjack tables open in Deadwood last month compared to the previous year. House-banked poker games, like Three Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em, saw five fewer active tables. One roulette and two craps tables were also missing in action during May.
Live poker rake was down 74 percent. The number of open tables dropped from 21 to 6. Cadillac Jack’s is the only open poker room in Deadwood. Saloon No. 10, Silverado and The Lodge have not announced opening dates for poker room yet. A representative at Silverado confirmed that its poker room will not open in 2020.
Players either claimed fewer promos or ones were not offered at the same level in May 2020. The amount of free play and other prizes dropped about $550,000 over May 2019. Expired slot tickets were nearly double the previous year.
In a press release, the Deadwood Gaming Association estimates that $11.4 million in gaming revenues were lost during the closure. This does not include ancillary spending, like hotel and dining, which are predicted to also be down.
Deadwood casinos were required to close on March 25 through a city order. Some casinos closed a few days earlier. Doors were permitted to reopen on May 7.
All but two Deadwood casinos have returned. Iron Horse Inn is being remodeled. Deadwood Gulch is closed indefinitely. That property announced on its Facebook page that management will reevaluate the decision in November. The 13-acre property is listed for sale for $5.1 million.