We are now officially unable to gamble at commercial casinos in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic has either forced them all to shutdown or some level of state, county or local government has forced their closures. The last place to fall was Deadwood, South Dakota, which shuttered its casinos as of noon today.

Took some arm twisting

Earlier this week, several of Deadwood’s casinos remained defiant. There were 20 commercials casinos still open in the U.S., and according to calls made by USBets.com, nine were in Deadwood.

777 Casino told the site, “[We] don’t plan on closing unless something major happens.”

Nothing major, you know, except for the declaration of a national emergency and almost 65,000 infected with over 900 dead in the United States. It’s ok, just a few dead people.

On Monday, Deadwood Mayor David Ruth Jr. asked the casinos that hadn’t closed to rethink their decisions:

While I recognize these decisions are difficult and impact many employees and their families, in addition to the strain they place upon you as business owners, just this morning the United States Surgeon General warned ‘the coronavirus outbreak will worsen this week’ and said that ‘people across the country are not taking the threat seriously enough.’ The time to take things more seriously is now.

And finally, later that day, the Deadwood Gaming Association followed through, announcing that it “will be working with Deadwood’s gaming operators to temporarily shut down Deadwood gaming operations at high noon on Wednesday March 25th, 2020 until further notice.”

“Even though there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Lawrence County and no cases of community spread yet in our area,” the DGA said, perhaps a bit pouty, “the Deadwood Gaming Industry believes that working closely with the Mayor and local health officials to be proactive with the City’s shutdown request is in our patrons’ and employees’ best interests.”

Thus, all 465 commercial casinos in the United States are now closed. That includes the Rio in Las Vegas, home of the World Series of Poker. This is notable because the WSOP begins in two months and is still apparently on as planned. Most people think it will have to be postponed.

According to the American Gaming Association, 97 percent of the 524 tribal casinos are also closed. The few that are open are mostly tiny locations at places like convenience stores.

Just do the right thing

While the DGA says “there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Lawrence County and no cases of community spread yet in our area,” this is not the smartest line of thinking during this health crisis. Because most people experience mild to no symptoms if they catch the novel coronavirus, most people do not get tested. People with the virus but who are asymptomatic can still transmit the disease. Thus, even with no “known cases,” it is quite likely there are at least a few people in the Deadwood casinos who are carriers.

And carriers put others at risk, especially in close quarters and an entertainment activity that requires lots of touching things that other people touched.

It’s awful for the casinos and their employees that all this is happening, but it will get a lot worse if we don’t take the necessary steps now.

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