Sports betting kickoff in Deadwood

Lawrence County Commissioner Bob Ewing, left, and Deadwood Mayor Dave Ruth, Jr., placed the first sports bets in Deadwood after the casinos launched the option today. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — NFL wasn’t the only thing that kicked off in Deadwood Thursday.

A hard-fought, and long-awaited complement, legalized sports betting, was ushered in by local and state gaming officials just in time for the gridiron season, followed up by Lawrence County Commissioner and former state Sen. Bob Ewing and Deadwood Mayor David Ruth, Jr. making the first legal sportsbook bets ever in the Wild West city.

“We, here in Deadwood, couldn’t be happier and more excited about this new chapter that we’re ready to unveil in the history of Deadwood,” Ruth said. “We’re excited about what this means to our visitors. We know this will enhance the visitor experience and help lengthen the stay of people that are coming to town.”

Ruth put money down on his three favorite teams – Avalanche, Dodgers, and Pittsburg Steelers and weighed in on making the first wager.

“It was really daunting to try and think about what really represents what should be the first wager,” Ruth said. “And then, I thought, it should represent me, as an individual. So, I’m placing a variety bet, where I’m doing three futures bets, betting on my favorite teams to win their respective title. I’m also betting on Army to win their college game this weekend because I’m an Army vet, and because Deadwood’s an Old West town, where cowboys are famous, I’m taking the Cowboys tonight. That one’s a little hard for me, but, it is old west and they’re getting points, so that’s how I can justify it. It’s pretty exciting.”

Ewing said it was an extreme honor and he was very pleased when asked to make the first wager, picking Denver Broncos to win the Superbowl.

“Because I had a heavy hand in getting it on the ballot so that the whole state could vote for it. It was a Senate bill that I carried, and it was an honor to do that, so I’m pretty tickled that it’s all come together and here we are today.”

Wednesday, the South Dakota Commission on Gaming (SDCG) approved finalized rules and licensing that enabled legalized sports wagering to start in Deadwood Thursday, acknowledging there will likely be changes following the 90-day start-up window in which the following games were approved for wagering: baseball, basketball, fighting, football, golf, hockey, Olympic games, racing, rodeo, rugby, soccer, and tennis, with several bet options and the opportunity to wager on professional and college events.

Several other gaming officials were on hand to usher in legalized sports wagering in Deadwood.

“As part of the gaming commission and looking at it from a regulatory basis, I feel that we’ve taken great steps in having everything in place as far as rules and some of the regulatory procedures, to begin sports wagering today,” said SDCG Chairman Karen Wagner. “We recognize that there will probably things that need to change in the future, but we’re happy to be where we’re at today and happy that Deadwood is able to move forward.”

Deadwood Gaming Association (DGA) Executive Director Mike Rodman gave a shout out to SDGC Executive Director Susan Christian and her staff for the role they played in hustling to get sports wagering up and running for the opening day of the NFL football season.

“It was a heavy lift for their staff and they made it happen,” Rodman said. “Thank you very much. We’re excited to get the first bets placed.”

Immediately following the SDCG approval of the games Wednesday, Rodman said it was extremely important that sports betting opened Thursday for football season.

“South Dakota is conservative, so it’s kind of a conservative catalog to begin with,” Rodman said. “But I think it gives plenty of opportunities for our customers for the first 90 days and we’ll be expanding from there. It doesn’t have everything that we probably want, but it certainly has enough variety that it’s a good start for sports wagering in South Dakota.”

DGA President Caleb Arceneaux thanked everyone in attendance for coming out to celebrate the first official sports wager at BetMGM in Tin Lizzie.

“It’s a great product to bring to Deadwood. It’s really going to help us out during our shoulder and off season,” Arceneaux said. “That’s what’s so exciting about this. It’s another tool in our tool box, as a market, to really bring people to Deadwood.”

It should be noted that by downloading a property-specific app, bettors can make mobile wagers if they are on that specific property’s boundaries and if the property’s sportsbook is currently up and running.

“Everything will be geofenced,” said Deadwood Mountain Grand (DMG) Casino Manager Tyler Nold. “So, technically, people could drive into our parking lot, get on the app, and then bet. They could then get in their car and drive off.”

Deadwood Mountain Grand’s sports book will be serviced by IGT and it, along with the DMG app, is expected to be operational in the coming weeks.

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