If you’re wondering whether Deadwood is for you, consider this: When Kevin Costner came to South Dakota to film “Dances with Wolves,” he liked it so much that he bought a Deadwood building and turned it into a casino.
That casino is the Midnight Star, and it’s one of the swankiest of this historic mountain town’s 80-plus gaming halls. From hole-in-the-wall simplicity to Las Vegas-style extravagance, the city’s gaming industry has something for everybody. The most novice of gamblers can try their hand at the nickel slots, while steely-eyed poker aces can bet up to $100 a hand.
It’s poker that helped give the town its notoriety. Wild Bill Hickok, the noted lawman, gunfighter and professional gambler, was shot in the back in 1876 in a Deadwood saloon while holding aces and eights – forever after known as the “Dead Man’s Hand.”
Hickok’s murder occurred in Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10, which no longer exists (many of Deadwood’s original buildings were lost to catastrophic fires in the town’s early years). But the modern-day Lucky Nugget Gambling Hall – which features gaming, dining, a saloon and burlesque entertainment – is said to be built on the site of the original Saloon No. 10.
Meanwhile, the modern-day Old Style Saloon No. 10 is a kind of re-creation of the original Saloon No. 10. A self described “museum with a bar,” Saloon No. 10 features many Old West artifacts and presents re-enactments of Wild Bill Hickok’s shooting several times daily during the summer.
Lodging and dining choices are as rich as the gaming opportunities in Deadwood. Of particular fame is the Bullock Hotel, which was originally built by Seth Bullock, Deadwood’s first-ever sheriff and a close friend of Teddy Roosevelt; and the Deadwood Social Club, which is above Saloon No. 10 and is renowned for its award-winning cheesecake. Many of the restaurants and hotels in the city also feature gaming, and entertainment in the form of comedians and musicians is common.
Some all-inclusive Deadwood destinations feature lodging, gaming, dining and entertainment in one place. These complexes include the Mineral Palace, Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort, Comfort Inn at Gulches of Fun Casino, Deadwood Gulch Resort, Gold Dust Gaming and Entertainment Complex and the Silverado Franklin Historic Hotel and Gaming Complex.
For those who need a break from the tables and slot machines, there are plenty of other things to do. The entire city of Deadwood is a National Historic Landmark, and the city’s attractions include the Adams Museum and House, Mount Moriah Cemetery (where the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried), and nearby attractions such as ski slopes, Spearfish Canyon, Mount Rushmore and other Black Hills wonders.
It’s gaming, though, that is the principal draw in Deadwood, which has only 1,300 or so permanent residents. Total annual wagers in the city surpassed $1 billion in 2007 and grew again in 2008, leaving little doubt about Deadwood’s future as one of the premier gaming destinations in the world.
Below are some of the more popular casinos located in Deadwood. There are over 80-plus gaming halls in Deadwood so you'll never have a problem finding a slot machine or poker table to keep you entertained.