DEADWOOD, S.D. (KELO) — The persistent problem of people younger than age 21 who are on gambling floors in Deadwood casinos could lead to tighter rules from the South Dakota Commission on Gaming.
The commission on Wednesday directed its staff to do a review and bring any proposed changes to the December 14 meeting.
“I think it’s time we probably address some of those issues,” said the commission’s chair, Karen Wagner of Belle Fourche.
The commission also wants a report on changes that casinos have made in recent months, such as installing more signs and adding employees who check IDs at casino entrances and walk the floors in gambling areas.
Susan Christian, the commission’s executive secretary, said there is ambiguity in the anti-loitering rule that leads to friction between her office’s agents and casinos. “What’s loitering to you may not be loitering to me,” she said.
Christian also said a 1998 rule allowing remote monitoring of gambling areas could be updated. She said casinos back then had at most three gambling rooms and 90 machines. Now some have many more rooms and machines and, in some cases, are in more than one building.
Casino representatives met with the commission’s staff on August 18 to discuss the need for more enforcement.
Various casino representatives told the commission Wednesday they’ve since added employees to check IDs and patrol the gambling floors.
Christian said she’s seen “a big swing” toward more signage and some casinos have reworked their floor designs to add tables and chairs where people can wait outside the gambling areas.
While casinos’ employees have been good about checking IDs for people ordering alcohol, Christian said she hasn’t seen enforcement to the same degree for people who are gambling.
Commissioner Harry Christianson of Rapid City, who previously had an ownership stake in a Deadwood casino business, said there’s a difference in the “point of sale” between needing to check an ID for alcohol and having to enforce the age-21 requirement for every slot machine or table game.
Christianson suggested age-enforcement training for casino employees, similar to what’s used in the alcohol industry. He said the training could be a condition of licensure. Deadwood casinos have about 1,400 people with support licenses and about 200 people with higher-level key licenses.
More than 200 people are signed up for a free ID-enforcement class with the Deadwood police department in October that’s open to anyone.
Commissioner Karl Fischer of Pierre recalled getting ID’d, at age 71, when he ordered a drink in an airport bar. “We need to get a handle on this,” Fischer said. “It’s a serious thing, people. We need to pay attention to it. If the help feels uncomfortable, that’s what they’re getting paid for.”