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Deadwood gaming and hotels take huge hit in April because of COVID-19

 Machines at the Tin Lizzie Gaming Resort in Deadwood, S.D.
Machines at the Tin Lizzie Gaming Resort in Deadwood, S.D. (KOTA)
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 6:06 PM CDT
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Like most industries across the country, Deadwood's hotel and gaming industries took huge hits in April because of COVID-19.

Only 728 hotel rooms were rented in April, down from 18,044 in April 2019.

That many empty rooms equates to an estimated $1.5 million loss for Deadwood's hotels and another $8 million down on the gaming side of the house.

"Well, we're hopeful that people will slowly venture out and we're hoping that we're able to see as the summer progresses that things return to whatever this new normal is," said Mike Rodman, the Executive Director of the Deadwood Gaming Association.

But Rodman is cautiously optimistic about the return to normal numbers, as businesses begin to re-open.

"We're hopeful that we'll have enough revenue return that some of these properties are able to financially survive this terrible impact that they've gone through," said Rodman.

Casinos across Deadwood are using a sticker system for sanitization. Once a customer is done at each machine, they are asked to take the sticker and simply throw it away, so employees know which station has recently been used, so they can come by and sanitize it. Customers are also asked to keep two spots between each seat to promote social distancing.

Rodman said he is pleasantly surprised at the amount of business in Deadwood since properties started re-opening, and said customers have taken the changes in stride.

"The reception from the customers has been very, very good, very well received," said Rodman. "They've been very receptive to the procedures that are in place."

Like many tourists and locals alike, Rodman said he is looking forward to the big events and concerts returning to Deadwood.

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