Hard Rock Deadwood Opening ‘Rocksino’ in Historic Gold Rush Mining Town

Posted on: August 8, 2023, 12:54h. 

Last updated on: August 7, 2023, 04:05h.

The Rocksino by Hard Rock officially opens on Tuesday in the historic Gold Rush town of Deadwood.

Rocksino Hard Rock Deadwood casino hotel
Deadwood’s newest casino and hotel, the Rocksino by Hard Rock, is opening on Aug. 8, 2023. The small casino is billed as Hard Rock’s first boutique casino. (Image: Hard Rock International)

Formerly Hickok’s Hotel & Gaming, the Hard Rock Rocksino is a boutique casino and hotel on Deadwood’s Main Street.

Steve Slowey purchased Hickock’s during the COVID-19 pandemic for $4 million. Slowey then partnered with Oswald Entertainment, based in Nashville but with a lengthy history in Deadwood, and the combined ownership group announced the property’s rebranding plan in May.

Marc Oswald, CEO of Oswald Entertainment, was one of the original partners of the Deadwood Mountain Grand, which opened in April 2013. Oswald is also a live music promoter in Nashville. In Deadwood, Oswald Entertainment produces the “Deadwood Live! Open Air Music Series” throughout the summer in Outlaw Square. The concert park is directly adjacent to the Hard Rock Rocksino at the intersection of Main and Deadwood.

Hard Rock First

Slowey and Oswald in May reached an agreement with Hard Rock International, the casino and hospitality conglomerate owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, to renovate the former Hickok’s into the town’s “finest boutique hotel-gaming-restaurant-retail operation.”

While most Hard Rock hotels feature hundreds or thousands of rooms, the Deadwood location comes with just 28 guestrooms. Oswald said that will result in the Hard Rock brand bringing new guests to town, but not only for his property’s benefit.

We’ve only got 28 hotel rooms, so the traffic we expect to be able to bring into Deadwood is going to result in a lot of spillover traffic,” Oswald said. “We believe the rising tide lifts all boats.”

The Hard Rock Rocksino gaming space is also vastly smaller than a typical Hard Rock casino. While Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa features nearly 5,000 slot machines and over 200 live dealer table games, its Deadwood boutique casino has only 86 slot machines. No table games are offered.

Oswald said the reason the owners and Hard Rock settled on the “Rocksino” label is to differentiate the property from Hard Rock’s destination-type casino resorts.

“The reason it’s called Rocksino by Hard Rock is because it’s a boutique Hard Rock casino and hotel,” Oswald explained to News Center 1, an NBC affiliate in Rapid City. “It’s a Hard Rock experience in a boutique setting.”

While the Hard Rock Rocksino is a first in Deadwood, Hard Rock previously used the “rocksino” term in Ohio when it managed the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park near Cleveland. Hard Rock’s management agreement for the racino was terminated after MGM Resorts purchased the property in 2018 for more than $1 billion.

After recently holding a soft opening, Deadwood’s Rocksino by Hard Rock will officially open to the public at 5 p.m. MDT today, Aug. 8. Nearly two-dozen guitars are set to be smashed around 6 p.m. by local and state officials, property owners, Seminole tribal leaders, and celebrity guests. Hard Rock typically holds a “Grand Opening Guitar Smash” when opening new cafes, hotels, and resorts.

Deadwood Officials Reject Guitar

In June, Deadwood city officials rejected Hard Rock’s application to construct a large guitar on the Rocksino’s façade on grounds that a guitar on Main St. didn’t fall in line with the town’s historical roots.

The Deadwood City Commission also denied the hotel’s application to construct a guitar statue at Outlaw Square. City Commissioner Sharon Martinisko said an oversized guitar would run afoul of Deadwood’s branding.

Hard Rock was instead approved to place a smaller guitar logo on the hotel’s awning.