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Casino-Owning Senator Whines About Following Laws, Paying Taxes

South Dakota voters carved out a special constitutional privilege for the city of Deadwood, allowing entrepreneurs to make money that other South Dakota communities cannot, with casino gambling. Asking for further exceptions and exemptions from state law—e.g., the exception to the smoking ban that casino owner and Senator Tom Nelson wants—is just whining. So says Joel Rosenthal:

I have detailed previously their continued insatiability for more privileges in my prior posting on Legal Shenanigans. I.e. higher limits, more games, loans for developers, and a railroad line....

While the Deadwood interests want to blame their loss of revenues (and of consequence the (and I do not dispute this) the State's loss of gambling tax revenues) on the smoking ban; it was debated both when the ban passed the Legislature and in the Statewide general election in 2010 that there could be a loss of revenues.

Well the people have spoken (by a 2 to 1 landslide margin) and said, ban smoking in public places &ndash it's unhealthy! [Joel Rosenthal, "Would You Like Some Cheese?" South Dakota Straight Talk, 2012.01.05]

I look forward with grim blogger anticipation to the spectacle of a casino owner introducing legislation that he will argue from the Senate floor will increase his own profits.

Gambling apparently depends not only on addictive carcinogenic behavior, but also on free parking:

Is Deadwood's Main Street dying — again?

The Main Street business community tends to think so. They also believe that the ticket to driving more downtown traffic just might be the decision to allow 40 free parking places on Main Street.

"Without Main Street parking, the Historic District will lose many retail and gaming properties this year and in the future. Help prevent the collapse of Deadwood and support parking on Main Street," according to a "Historic Main Street Parking Petition," recently filed with the city of Deadwood [Jaci Conrad Pearson, "Free Parking?" Black Hills Pioneer, 2012.01.06].

Main Street dying? Deadwood collapsing? Wow: I thought gambling was supposed to be a great cash cow. With all the money they lose to the one-armed bandits inside, you'd think visitors would hardly notice the handful of quarters they drop into the no-armed bandits at the curb to help pay for the privilege of occupying asphalt in a mountain town where parking space is at a premium.

I don't know how Senator Nelson feels about parking meters, but Senator Nelson also wants to repeal various taxes on Deadwood gambling. Now someone please tell me who the European liberals are here who want to enjoy their privileges without paying for them?


  1. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    In contrast to Rapid City, Lawrence County could do more to encourage recycling.

  2. Bill Fleming 2012.01.10

    Deawood got that break when a big chunk of downtown burned down and the water tanks up on the hill behind the slime plant were leaking like s sieve because they were so old and dilapidated.

    Gaming brought the complete extinction of the downtown everyone remembers. (There were once drug stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, clothing stores, bakeries... you know... like a real town?)

    Buildings that once would sell for under $60k now go for well over a million. So it's hard for me to drum up much sympathy for the place, Cory. If half of the casinos there had to close the town would still be better off than most SD towns of comparable size. It's not like SD didn't give them a leg up when they needed one. If they can't make it without killing people with second hand smoke, tough.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.10

    That "real town" comment is potent, Bill. Erin and I have done a lot of community comparisons on our Sunday drives around these lovely hills, and we've thought that it just wouldn't be that fun living in Deadwood, a town with no grocery store. It's great that the casinos generate lots of tax revenue for the town... and maybe when you've got such spectacular scenery, you don't need basic daily downtown amenities. But I can't spend all day on the trail... and I need a place to pick up my granola bars for those long rides and a nice place to bed down when I'm done. I'm happy to have two grocery stores within walking distance of my Spearfish house. Deadwood just wouldn't be as comfortable.

  4. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    Grocery delivery could fix part of the problem in Deadwood.

  5. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    Lots of new snow on Terry Peak this morning.

  6. Bill Fleming 2012.01.11

    Deadwood used to be a great place to live, Cory. I lived there from 1979-86. Like you, I wouldn't really want to live there now either. Too commercial. I'm hoping it can someday get some of its old flavor back. It really is a cool location. But there are WAY too many casinos there for my taste and not enough "hometown."

  7. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    Used to be a Democratic stronghold, as was all of LawCo. The view from my house into the Gulch is magical this morning.

    Sherman St. is the future of Deadwood.

  8. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    The South Dakota legislature adapted to PPACA. Why not draft legislation in advance of the next Obama administration making cannabis law look like alcohol and make Deadwood the adult destination it wants to be?

    Think brew pubs and wine tasting in drafting state law.

  9. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    Build a grade school in Lead and convert the grade school in Deadwood to a world-class dealers school.

  10. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    Create an associates degree program through BHSU's tourism division and make Deadwood an extension classroom.

  11. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    Casino and slot tech careers are part of a hospitality industry at which South Dakota excels.

  12. larry kurtz 2012.01.12

    Deadwood has the resources to drill for hot water and build spa facilities; so does Hot Springs.

    Get the lead out, legislators, and move forward instead of spending so much time taking away rights.

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