DEADWOOD, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota law prohibits anyone under age 21 from participating in gaming in Deadwood. But the Black Hills city markets to families as a tourism destination, and state regulators have noticed an uptick in underage individuals on establishments’ gaming floors.
The South Dakota Commission on Gaming is trying to find a solution. The commission’s staff has been working with the Deadwood Gaming Association. There’s not yet an answer.
An existing rule requires all licensed gaming establishments to prominently display a sign at each entrance telling the public that gaming patrons must be 21 years of age to gamble.
A related rule says a licensee can’t allow a person younger than 21 to gamble, loiter in the gaming area or be at a gambling table, slot machine or other areas where gambling is conducted. But the rule allows persons younger than 21 to pass through a casino to non-gaming areas.
The state commission planned Wednesday to consider an additional rule. It would have required a licensee to have “a continuous view” of the underage person while passing through the gaming area “to prevent access to or play of any gaming device.”
But Mike Shaw, one of the commission’s attorneys, said Wednesday during the public hearing that the proposal was withdrawn.
“We think this is something we need to work on together,” Shaw said.
The commission’s executive secretary, Susan Christian, said there could be action on the issue at a later time.
Roger Tellinghuisen, the lawyer representing the Deadwood Gaming Association, said he agreed with Shaw. Because Deadwood is marketed as a family destination, casinos have difficulty complying with gaming laws, Tellinguisen said.
“We understand it’s our responsibility,” he said.
In the discussion, one possibility mentioned was addressing the issue through legislation.
Said Shaw: “The only way to protect is to say, ‘No minors,’ period, and we don’t want to go there.”