Sources say that South Dakota has been inhabited for some 25,000 years or more. From nomadic tribes and hunter-gatherers to European immigrants and Sioux tribes, the state has a rich – and often stormy – history that spans thousands of years. Although one of the largest states in the US, South Dakota is sparsely populated, ranking as the fifth least populated area in the entire country. Despite this, it is home to several well-known memorials and attractions, most famous of which is Mt. Rushmore in Black Hills, the Wind Cave National Park and the Badlands National Park – all major attractions for tourists.
Sioux Falls is the most populated city, but if you’re planning a visit – or indeed living in the state – and want to include gambling in your line-up of activities while on holiday, we’d highly recommend putting Deadwood on the map. Why? Well, not only can you explore the rich gold mining history the city has to offer, but it’s also one of the only places you’ll be able to visit in the entire state that offers legal gambling facilities – apart from a smattering of tribal casinos. Of course, you could always take your chances playing at mobile social casinos or online casinos while you’re there, but we wouldn’t recommend it – unless you’re okay with landing a possible Class 2 misdemeanour. If you’d prefer not to visit Deadwood, but still want to gamble, your best bet is going to be social casino apps which offer free fun online slots, or Facebook casinos, fun play casinos and free play online casinos – basically any online casinos that don’t require cash exchanges.
Deadwood: South Dakota’s Gambling Capital
Of the 22 licensed casinos in operation in South Dakota, 13 are situated in the city of Deadwood. It’s unclear whether all 13 are still in operation, as we do know of one famous casino that closed its doors in 2017 following 28 years in the business: Midnight Star. Some of you might already know the story, but this casino was opened and run by film star Kevin Costner – a decision the actor made largely because of his love for Deadwood, which may or may not have been brought about during the filming of 7 times Academy Award winner, Dances with Wolves, which was largely shot in South Dakota.
Thanks to its architecture and history, as well as its national historic landmark classification, Deadwood’s land-based casinos are (at least from the outside) as close to the original Wild West gaming houses as they come. Names like Deadwood Dick’s Saloon, Mustang Sally’s, Iron Horse Inn and Wooden Nickel Casino are some of the more colourfully named gaming establishments in Deadwood, while there are also a number of more contemporary names like VFW Casino, Gold Dust Gaming & Entertainment Complex and Oyster Bay Bar & Casino to gamble at too.
South Dakota: Fun Gambling Facts
For those of you visiting Deadwood’s casinos, here are a few facts that should give you an indication of what to expect – just remember that the games available to play will be the same as the ones found in tribal casinos.
- Casino Games: A strict list of casino games available to play in South Dakota includes slots, blackjack, roulette, poker, craps and keno only. No other casino games are permitted.
- Bet Sizes: While there is no information on minimum bet sizes, the maximum stake you’ll be able to make in the state is $1000.
- Horse and Dog Wagering: There is only one casino that permits simulcast horse and dog racing, and that’s the Triple Crown Casino, which is located in North Sioux City. South Dakota does also offer live horse racing – but this is a once-a-year occurrence. Residents and visitors to the state will have to visit the Stanley County Fairgrounds or Brown County Fairgrounds annually during spring to take place live horse racing bets.
- Legal Betting Ages: Both Deadwood’s casinos and all the tribal casinos in South Dakota require bettors to be at least 21 years of age, although, if they are betting on simulcast horse or dog racing, or live horse racing, they need to be 18 years or older.
- Slot Machine Statistics: As at January 2018, there were 3079 slot machines in operation. On these, players placed bets totalling $76,840,803.78, of which $6,926,108.80 was returned in statistical winnings.
- Table Game Statistics: For the same time period as above, table games handled bets in the region of $5,002,483.00, with a much lower statistical payout total of $1,007,786.36, the majority of which came from house banked poker games. With 39 out of the available 93 table games to play being blackjack, it’s clear what South Dakota’s favourite is.
Online Gaming Options in South Dakota
As mentioned earlier, online gaming is strictly prohibited in South Dakota, and offenders who choose to ignore this law could face a Class 2 misdemeanour, resulting in a hefty fine or even imprisonment. If you simply have to gamble at mobile social casinos or online casinos when you’re in the region, our suggestion is to do some research on social casino apps. Some typically offer free fun online slots (in other words, ‘test’ play slots), while Facebook casinos, fun play casinos and free play online casinos could also give you the opportunity to play games without any money being exchanged, either by you or the casino itself. Make sure you do your research properly, though – we wouldn’t want you to land in any hot water.
Unless you’re visiting Deadwood specifically, and gambling is high on your list of activities, we wouldn’t recommend a visit to South Dakota. If, however, you’re looking for an historically-rich tourist experience, then you’ll never run out of things to do in this state. In years to come, laws around online gaming may change in your favour – but for now, it’s best to play it safe!