The Gold Dust Casino in Deadwood closed at 2am this morning with virtually no notice to players and employees. The casino had been a fixture in Deadwood but hit hard times in recent years. This includes three different owners since 2007 and the closure of some major attractions within the casino.
Gold Dust officials have stated that the casino is closing for renovations with no other comment. They have not announced a time frame for reopening or what would be remodeled during the renovations. The casino recently renovated their buffet, leaving many to wonder why there would be a restaurant remodel before a closure. The lack of information has left Deadwood players and the more than fifty Gold Dust employees to wonder what is next.
The Lucky Nugget was the last Deadwood casino to close for renovations. It never reopened and the property is currently for sale. There is concern that Gold Dust may see the same fate.
Deadwood’s Challenges in Last Two Years
The entire Deadwood gaming market had suffered a sharp decline since a voter referendum in November 2010 created a casino smoking ban in Deadwood casinos and state video lottery casinos. Colorado raising their bet limits from $5 to $100 also hurt Deadwood tourism. Deadwood responded by lobbying the state legislature to raise the betting limits in Deadwood from $100 to $1000. This succeeded and bet limits were raised to $1000 in Deadwood and tribal casinos in July 2012. This has helped rebound Deadwood gaming revenue.
There are several requirements casinos must meet to raise their limits in South Dakota. These include higher denomination chips and new security procedures. Gold Dust did not make these improvements to their casino so they were unable to raise their bet limit. This hurt action from higher volume players that went to other casinos in Deadwood that qualified for the new $1000 limit as the maximum bet at Gold Dust remained at $100.
Two new casinos in Deadwood have also opened in recent years and Cadillac Jack’s expanded their table game selection. This has nearly doubled the number of table games in Deadwood. This added competition also hurt Gold Dust.
Gold Dust once had two casinos in Deadwood. The main casino featured a poker room, full bar, buffet, 250 slot machines and six table games. The table games were six deck blackjack, double deck blackjack and Three Card Poker. The smaller casino offered a hotel, bar, two six deck blackjack games and about 60 slot machines. The last sale split these properties and the table games were removed from the smaller casino at the hotel.
Gold Dust Blackjack Was Unique in City
Some low limit blackjack players in Deadwood will be sad to see the Gold Dust close. The six deck blackjack game at Gold Dust was the only casino in the city that allowed players to resplit aces. The rule was grandfathered in after gaming regulations were changed. While the shoe blackjack game was one of the best games in Deadwood, the double deck game tied for the worst blackjack game in the city because it did not allow players to double down after splitting.
Poker Room Closed in 2012
In addition to the closure of some table games in 2010, the casino saw their poker room traffic slowly dwindle. The poker room relocated twice over the past four years while shedding tables at the same time. The poker room eventually ended up with just two tables before it closed. Players were lured by the large bad beat jackpots, but were turned off by the $2 jackpot drop.
The casino also offered 24 hour table games throughout most of its existence. That stopped this year when the graveyard shift was eliminated. The tables would close at 2am regardless of the amount of action.
Mixed Reaction by Players
Another negative of the Gold Dust was its casino management and treatment of blackjack players. Some experienced blackjack players were run off from the casino. Players that were suspected of counting cards or players that would help their friends at the table were thrown out of the casino. This is rare in Deadwood, where most casinos will welcome all players, even if they demonstrate an ability to play basic strategy correctly.
While there were issues with experienced players that showed the ability to win, recreational players enjoyed the great drink service, friendly dealers and low minimums. Three Card Poker and six deck blackjack would often have just a $2 minimum bet. These players will miss the friendly atmosphere of Deadwood’s Gold Dust casino.