As Mayor of Deadwood and a former state legislator, Chuck Turbiville figured getting a tax increase past Gov. Deninis Daugaard would be dicey.
"When the governor came to Rapid City for his first campaign tour, he said then, 'I will not during my term raise taxes," Turbiville said Tuesday.
Even so, Turbiville and other Deadwood gaming advocates took a chance with a bill to raise the city's lodging tax from $2 to $3, generating about $240,000 a year more for marketing programs in the city. With a possible match from the state, that could have meant almost a half million dollars a year more going into Deadwood promotions, Turbiville said.
True to his word, however, Daugaard vetoed the bill Tuesday. And legislators pushing the bill were unable to get the votes needed on Wednesday to override the veto.
"We were hoping to get this bill through,"Turbiville said. "It would have allowed us to expand our marketing down into Colorado, do a little more in Denver."
That wasn't all the bad news for the city with the chancy reputation. Lawmakers had previously rejected a bill allowing Deadwood hotel casinos with liquor licenses and more than 10 rooms to serve alcohol all night, a move intended to create a more Las Vegas-type atmosphere.
Turbiville said the city and the gaming industry needs to be creative to compete with a national gaming industry that has expanded and become more challenging since South Dakota voters agreed in 1988 to allow slot machines and a selection of card games such as poker and blackjack in Deadwood.
"When the people of South Dakota approved limited-stakes gaming in Deadwood, we were one of three venues in the United States," Turbiville said. "And of course we were really unique. We started gambling. We of course had the Old West community, the beautiful Black Hills, and so, of course, for the first few years of gaming things were going really, really well."
Since then, responding to challenges in the gaming industry has been part of survival for Deadwood. And Turbiville says that next response could come from voters. State legislators did agree to authorize a November ballot issue asking voters to add roulette, keno and craps to the games already allowed.
Turbiville says the demand is already there.
"We get people coming to Deadwood and saying, hey, where are your craps tables? Where can I play roulette?" Turbiville said. "And that's especially true of the oil field workers who come down from western North Dakota. They're use to activity of that type."
Turbiville says the effort to persuade South Dakota voters that the new games will benefit Deadwood and the state's overall economy will begin soon.
"I'm optimistic. I think people of South Dakota realize that this is something that Deadwood needs," Turbiville said. "It's going to allow us to compete with a lot of the surrounding states, the Indian reservations. And it's something that I think is going to give a whole new look to the community."
As for Daugaard's veto of the funding bill, Turbiville said he was disappointed but not surprised, or upset.
"I'm disappointed, but I give the governor credit," Turbiville said. "He said he would not raise taxes. And he's a man of his word."