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Kevin Costner Closes Deadwood Casino After 26 Years, as Historic Town Struggles

Actor Kevin Costner is parting ways with his Midnight Star casino and restaurant in Deadwood, South Dakota, after 26 years in business. The gambling emporium on Main Street is just the latest casualty in the historic town.

Main Street in Deadwood is down another casino after Kevin Costner closed the Midnight Star. (Image: South Dakota Department of Tourism)

Costner opened the Midnight Star in 1991 after falling in love with Deadwood upon his first visit in 1990 for the filming of Dances with Wolves. Midnight Star has housed notable relics from Costner’s storied film career throughout its own history.

“When I opened the Midnight Star … it was because of my deep love for Deadwood and the Black Hills of South Dakota and their historical importance in our country’s story,” Costner told the Rapid City Journal. “So it is with a heavy heart that I have to say that today the lights of the Midnight Star will go out for the last time.”

Founded illegally on Indian land in 1876 during the Back Hills Gold Rush, one of Deadwood’s most notable events was the murder of Wild Bill Hickok, who was allegedly playing poker and holding two aces and two eights at the time, now infamously known as the “dead man’s hand.”

Deadwood Dying

Deadwood gambling revenue is down another 3.5 percent in 2017. Numerous casinos have shuttered since 2008, as gaming and total visitation has declined.

Not unlike in Atlantic City where the economy crashed during the US recession and struggled to recover afterwards in the wake of neighboring states turning to gambling to help revitalize tax income, Deadwood has struggled in recent years. No longer does the South Dakota history-rich town have the enticement of casinos to bring tourists to the remote hills.

Deadwood Gaming Association Mike Rodman isn’t overly concerned.

“We look at Deadwood as being an integrated destination that has all of the components and gaming is just one of those components, although it is an important one because it is the economic engine for Deadwood,” Rodman told the Black Hills FOX affiliate. “Historically, September has been a good month for Deadwood gaming when we have the empty-nesters come and visit.”

Deadwood legalized gambling in 1989, and casinos immediately brought new revenue to the town. Tourism experts believe Deadwood needs to undergo another change to remarket itself to potential visitors.

“All destinations need to evolve over time, even those that wish to remain the same,” Rosen College of Hospitality Professor Alan Fyall told CNBC in 2015 regarding Deadwood’s struggles. “Changes may be very subtle and not necessarily expensive, but a destination brand ‘refresh’ helps maintain the status quo as well as attract new markets.”

Costner’s Fuzzy Memory

Local media reports that the Midnight Star opened in 1991, two years after gaming was approved. But in statements, Kevin Costner seems to remember opening in 1989.

“We had a great 28-year run,” Costner stated, which would date the casino back to 1989.

But Costner first visited Deadwood while filming “Dances.” Production on the Oscar Best Picture winner lasted four months, from July 1989 through November. Costner, who was not only acting but also directing the more than three-hour epic, presumably had little time to be opening a casino and restaurant.  

Kevin Horridge

Our math man, Kevin is the number guru. He calculates odds in his head the same way the rest of us make a cup of coffee. He gets involved in all the news stories involving numbers, and we often turn to him for help on financial news stories as he used to be in banking. However, he says that being a gambler is a far more respectable occupation these days.

View Comments

  • You little Brat cring Baby I was there at the

    You little cry Baby I was there at the Stampmill in Lead with you and you and your brother Dan, I was there through Dances Wolves: Dan Miller, Smiles a Lot, I worked for you and my child rode the shuttle with your Parents. I can't believe you were a copout..You little Brat??

    If you remember I told you Smile a Lot and otter were at my house, using my countertop as a drum singing the Honor Song


  • In 2019 we took our grandson to Deadwood, especially to see the Midnight Star. We had him watch Dances with Wolves first so that he would have a background. To our dismay it was closed! I had such fond memories of visiting it in 1995 and looking up close at the costumes from his movies. In any case life goes on and i am still a fan of Mr. Costner's. Unfortunately the town's folk are hurt and angry over moving out in the middle of the night and Deadwood has lost some of it's charm for me.

  • Jesus, even a shit website like this cant write a fucking article without getting political. Go fuck yourselves

  • Born and raised is South Dakota, the Black Hills, mainly, Deadwood, is much more than gambling and money to me. If it's all about that for you, God Bless and Good Bye!

  • Dear Mr. Costnor, I have writte a story about a very young warrior named, Crazy Horse, and a very young girl of seventeen, going deaf. the story is about a four month wagon train across the Dakota's. She must travel with a party of thirty wagons across the open going west. In her wagon party there are five wagons. She is a painter. She paints the canvas's of the scenes she see every day. Each day she puts mudd on her face and hands. I do not know who but , you could make this into a best selling movie. The song I have chosen for the theme is: To Where You Are", sung by Josh Grobin. If you can call , I would be delighted to speak to you about it. I know this has nothing to do with your casino, but do not know how to reach you. Do not know your agent. Please call or have someone send this message to you. What harm would it do for you to call? Sincerely, Bernadine Cusimano 281-593-0829 or cell. 713 408-3716 I hardly get into email these days so just call.

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Kevin Horridge