Deadwood Casino Regulators Uphold Ban on Poker Player Appealing Blacklist Inclusion

The gaming agency that regulates Deadwood casinos has refused a poker player’s request to be removed from the regulator’s involuntary 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 have placed Burleson on its Exclusion List after he was found in possession of a forged poker tournament entry ticket. (Image: Mid States Poker Tour)

The South Dakota Commission on Gaming yesterday rejected Rick Burleson’s plea that he be restored entry privileges to Deadwood’s 18 commercial casinos. Burleson argued that he was wrongfully placed on the casino blacklist in March on allegations that he knowingly tried to deceive a licensed gaming property in the historic Gold Rush town that today is famed for its iconic Main Street gaming parlors.

State gaming regulators placed Burleson on the Exclusion List after he was caught trying to use a forged entry ticket to compete in a poker tournament in October 2021 at the Silverado Casino.

Silverado security personnel initially accepted Burleson’s fraudulent entry receipt into the $1,100 buy-in poker event. But casino officials later realized the receipt was invalid. Burleson was subsequently removed from the casino.

Burleson is certainly well-known on the Deadwood poker scene. The Rapid City resident won the South Dakota State Poker Championship in 2018 and its first-place prize of $63,462. The final table was held at the Silverado.

Petition Denied

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

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

I was not under the impression that this was fraudulent,” Burleson stated. “I hate how this has ruined my reputation.”

Burleson says he’s been playing in Deadwood poker events for more than a dozen years without incident. But law enforcement probing the matter said Facebook messages between Burleson and Palmer revealed that he was a willing participant in the deceitful scheme.

After listening to Burleson’s account of events, commissioners deliberated the matter behind the doors. After a short recess, the South Dakota Commission on Gaming announced that Burleson would remain on the Exclusion List. The panel did not provide an explanation for its ruling, but the vote was unanimous, the commissioners said.

Banned Persons Must Stay Away

Absent a successful appeal, Burleson must stay far away from Deadwood casinos for the remainder of his life. He’s also prohibited from entering all tribal casinos in the state, as South Dakota’s Exclusion List lends to Native American gaming floors.

If Burleson violates his imposed conditions, he would face up to a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine. A person on the Exclusion List who enters a casino is subjected to a Class 1 misdemeanor charge.

Deadwood and tribal casinos are also required to make sure no one on the state gaming blacklist is permitted entry. Casinos face steep penalties, including the suspension or even revocation of their gaming license, should they knowingly allow a prohibited individual access.

The gaming commission’s Exclusion List consisted of less than 10 individuals as of 2019, the most recent publicly disclosed listing of bad actors.

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