Kevin Costner is of course best known for the silver screen, as the star of blockbusters like JFK and The Bodyguard.
But far fewer people know that the Hollywood actor has also owned a casino since 1991, in the town of Deadwood, deep in the mountains of the US state of South Dakota.
If you want to visit it, you are unfortunately too late, because last week the casino announced totally unexpectedly that it would close its doors and never open again.
How did Costner get a casino in such a dry spot on the map? This is due to the unprecedentedly successful American western film Dances with Wolves from 1990.
Costner was an actor, director and co-producer of Dances with Wolves. That's great, because the film became the box office success of that year and raised around 500 million dollars worldwide. About 10 percent of that was for Costner's bank account, so the actor had some money left to invest. And late Dances with Wolves Well partly recorded in the neighborhood of Deadwood.
With his share of the film profit, Costner purchased the Phoenix Block Building, one of the oldest buildings in Deadwood. At the time, the complex was pretty run down, but Costner had it restored to its former glory from head to toe.
The two largest flops from Costner
When the building is refurbished, he starts a restaurant (Diamond Lil’s Bar & Grill, where ironically a number of dishes are named after Costner's two largest film flops: Postman and Water world), a souvenir shop and a casino: Midnight Star. Later another restaurant follows: Jakes Fine Dining.
Slightly strange, but perhaps nice for the gamblers: on the interior walls of the building he has all sorts of Kevin Costner paraphernalia hanging. Costumes he once wore in films, guns he waved, boots in which he walked, well, you name it. This way, the casino also becomes part of a museum.
The casino also needs a bit of decoration, because Midnight Star is by no means a big, dazzling, shiny gambling palace. There are a lot of slot machines and you can only play two table games: Three Card Poker and blackjack.
In itself, the residents of Deadwood are happy with the arrival of the Costner entertainment complex. Because in the meantime, nobody lives there anymore from gold mining or mining, but from tourism.
"How did he repay the Indians?"
However, not everyone is pleased with the Costner casino, which is located in the middle of the original habitat of the Sioux Indians. It is murmured: Costner makes millions by exploiting the misery of the Indians (Dances with Wolves) and what does he give them in return? A gambling hall!
One of the critics at the time:
"The bitter irony here, or course, is that Costner built his Hollywood career on the back of Sioux culture. (…)
And how did he repay the Indians whose culture, language and history did he work so freely? Did he build a hospital on one of South Dakota's four reservations? Did he set up a college trust fund to educate underprivileged Indian kids? Did he buy a piece of the Black Hills and give it back to the Sioux, so that they could perform their religious ceremonies there? "
The management also struggles occasionally. When Costner fires two casino managers in 2004, they demand millions from the film actor. And now, in the late summer of 2017, Costner is just pulling the plug out of his small entertainment empire.
He reports in the local press:
"When I opened the Midnight Star in 1989 (the casino opened in 1991, MC), 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.
I hoped that resurrecting and restoring the famed Phoenix Block Building would allow it, like the Midnight Star, to also become a part of the famed Deadwood story. And from the casino to Diamond Lil’s, I was enormously proud of what became the Midnight Star. "
But Costner makes it immediately clear: he is no longer reopening the casino. He throws in the towel because his modest casino can no longer compete with the competition. In 1991, casinos were still illegal everywhere in the US. There are now casinos in 48 of the 50 states.
Well. Is it a shame that Midnight Star casino has disappeared? View and judge for yourself!
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