DEADWOOD, S.D. (KELO) — The panel that regulates Deadwood gaming in South Dakota has refused to remove the name of a Rapid City poker player from a list of people who are no longer allowed to be in any of the licensed gaming establishments in Deadwood.
Rick Burleson wanted the South Dakota Commission on Gaming to take his name off its exclusion list. But the commission on Wednesday rejected his request, after receiving testimony from Burleson and one of the commission’s agents, Brian Swets, and then reviewing the matter in closed-door executive session.
An excluded person who goes into a casino could face a class-one misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
A commission rule says the exclusion list is open to public inspection and shall be distributed to each gaming establishment licensed by the commission, as well as to law enforcement in Lawrence County and tribal gaming commissions throughout South Dakota.
The casino could face suspension or revocation of its gaming license and other punishment for failing to knowingly exclude or eject from the premises an excluded person.
The commission at its March meeting placed Burleson and Benjamin Palmer on the exclusion list.
The formal order regarding Burleson said, “The reason for the exclusion is that you engaged in fraudulent activity in association with a city-wide poker tournament on or about October 23, 2021, by being aware of Benjamin Palmer’s theft of an Eleven Hundred Dollar ($1100) poker tournament entry ticket at the Silverado Casino and further assisting Benjamin Palmer after the theft occurred.”
Burleson told the commission Wednesday that he’s played cards in Deadwood for about 12 years. He said he didn’t mean to deceive the Silverado.
“I hate how it’s ruined my reputation,” Burleson said.
Burleson admitted Wednesday that Palmer gave the entry ticket to him at Palmer’s house the day before the tournament. Burleson said it was the first time he received an entry ticket at a location that wasn’t the site of a tournament.
The ticket was accepted by the Silverado when Burleson signed in at the tournament. Burleson said he had been playing for about four hours when a casino official, poker room manager Greg Glodt, approached him.
The ticket wasn’t valid.
“I was not under the impression that this was fraudulent,” Burleson told the commission Wednesday. He confirmed there was a financial arrangement, with Palmer to get a share of any winnings by Burleson.
Agent Swets testified that he interviewed and arrested Palmer for his participation in the scheme. Swets said Palmer admitted his role — “That he made an extra ticket for his friend” — and Palmer then let Swets inspect his cell phone.
There Swets found a running exchange of Facebook messages between Palmer and Burleson. Gaming Commission attorney Doug Abraham questioned Burleson on Wednesday about the contents of those messages.
Abraham told the commission that the messages and actions showed Burleson was “engaging in a conspiracy” and therefore should stay on the exclusion list.
The commissioners said nothing publicly about the matter after returning from executive session, other than to unanimously vote to reject Burleson’s request. Commissioner Spencer Hawley of Brookings made the motion.