August 14, 2022

Deadwood Casino Regulators Uphold Poker Player Ban

Posted: June 23, 2022, 11:56 a.m.

Last update: June 23, 2022, 12:47 p.m.

The gambling agency that regulates Deadwood casinos has denied a poker player’s request to be removed from the regulator’s involuntary exclusion list.

Deadwood Casino Poker South Dakota Exclusion List
Rick Burleson poses with his winning cards at the 2018 South Dakota State Poker Championship held at the Silverado Casino in Deadwood. State gaming regulators placed Burleson on its debarment list after he was found in possession of a fake poker tournament entry ticket. (Image: Mid States Poker Tour)

The South Dakota Gaming Commission yesterday denied Rick Burleson’s request that he be restored to the privileges of entering Deadwood’s 18 commercial casinos. Burleson argued he was wrongly blacklisted by casinos in March. The exclusion was based on allegations that he knowingly attempted to deceive a licensed gambling property in the historic gold rush town that is now famous for its iconic Main Street gambling parlors.

State gaming regulators placed Burleson on the debarment list after he was caught trying to use a fake entry ticket to enter an October 2021 poker tournament at Silverado Casino.

Silverado security personnel initially accepted Burleson’s fraudulent entry receipt into the $1,100 poker event. But casino officials later realized the receipt was not valid. Burleson was later removed from the casino.

Burleson is certainly well known in the Deadwood poker scene. The Rapid City resident won the 2018 South Dakota State Poker Championship and his top prize of $63,462. The final table took place at the Silverado.

Petition denied

Following a regulatory investigation, South Dakota gaming officials concluded that Burleson conspired with Benjamin Palmer, another person blacklisted on the state’s gaming exclusion list, to steal money at the Silverado.

Law enforcement believes Palmer gave Burleson the fake poker ticket on the condition that the two split any winnings he earned from the event. Burleson told the gaming commission yesterday that he believed the ticket was legitimate and was tricked into using the forged receipt to enter the tournament.

I didn’t feel like it was fraudulent. Burleson said. “I hate how it ruined my reputation.”

Burleson says he has played poker events in Deadwood for over a dozen years without incident. But law enforcement investigating the case said Facebook messages between Burleson and Palmer revealed he was willingly participating in the deceptive scheme.

After hearing the account of the events at Burleson, the commissioners deliberated the matter behind the doors. After a short break, the South Dakota Gaming Commission announced that Burleson would remain on the debarment list. The panel did not provide an explanation for its decision, but the vote was unanimous, the commissioners said.

Prohibited people should stay away

Absent a successful appeal, Burleson must stay away from the casinos of Deadwood for the rest of his life. He is also prohibited from entering any tribal casinos in the state, as South Dakota’s exclusion list lends to Native American gambling halls.

If Burleson violates his imposed terms, he faces up to a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine. A person on the do-not-list who enters a casino is subject to a class 1 misdemeanor charge.

Deadwood and Tribal casinos are also required to ensure that no one on the state gambling blacklist is allowed entry. Casinos face severe penalties, including suspension or even revocation of their gaming license, if they knowingly allow unauthorized individual access.

The gaming commission’s exclusion list consisted of less than 10 people in 2019, the most recently publicly released list of bad actors.