Kevin Costner Closes Midnight Star, His South Dakota Casino

Midnight Star Casino Closes

Midnight Star flourished until bigger, flashier casinos came to South Dakota.

Kevin Costner is closing the Midnight Star, a casino he opened in South Dakota 26 years ago. Costner told the Rapid City Journal he was closing the casino with a “heavy heart”, but he was “enormously proud of what the Midnight Star became.”

The Midnight Star was a success when it first opened in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1991. The development offered retail shopping, a restaurant, and club facilities. It also had Kevin Costner memorabilia, while portraying American frontier life.

The casino opened the same year that Costner’s Oscar-winning western, Dances With Wolves, debuted. Dances With Wolves was set in South Dakota, so the California-born Costner maintained a special love for the area. Costner once said he opened the Midnight Star due to his “deep love for Deadwood and the Black Hills of South Dakota.”

Tribal Gaming Killed The Midnight Star

Unfortunately, the spread of tribal and commercial casinos across the United States made the Midnight Star an afterthought in the regional gaming market. While Costner’s casino employed 40 staff members, other operations in the Midwest employed hundreds — sometimes thousands — of workers.

Many of those casinos were closer to population centers. As the gaming market fragmented, most gamblers stayed closer to home. Kevin Costner has been downsizing his investment in South Dakota for a while. He sold 1000 acres of land in 2013 for $14 million. Deadwood Hospitality Resort LLC, a hotel management company, paid $7.5 million for 100 acres of that land.

No Sell of Midnight Star

The Midnight Star does not appear to be on the market. In a statement before its Tuesday closing, Costner said, “So it is with a heavy heart that I have to say that today (Tuesday) the lights of the Midnight Star will go out for the last time. I will be eternally grateful for the dedication and hard work of all of the management and staff at the Midnight Star.”

The decision to close the venerable casino seems to have caught South Dakota gaming regulators by surprise. Craig Sparrow, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the South Dakota Gaming Commission, said he had “no comment about nothing” when asked for a comment on the Midnight Star’s closure.

Kevin Costner in Molly’s Game

The Midnight Star is not the only connection Kevin Costner has to gambling. At present, Costner plays a supporting role in Aaron Sorkin’s film, Molly’s Game, which is a biopic about “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom’s role in an illegal high stakes poker game involving some of Hollywood’s elite actors and Wall Street’s elite financiers.

Molly’s Game is based on Molly Bloom’s 2013 autobiography, “Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker”. The story details a private poker game which included movie stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, and Tobey McGuire. Costner plays Molly’s psychologist father, while Jessica Chastain plays the title character. Idris Elba and Michael Cera also star.

In her book, Molly Bloom claimed she was an average, everyday person who was recruited to serve as hostess for a poker game involving some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. When she went on trial for her role in the $100 million poker ring, she was dubbed the Poker Princess by the tabloid press. The main draw of her book was to see which celebrities came off as genuinely nice guys (Ben Affleck) and which were not nice (Tobey McGuire).

While it is the opinion of one person who met actors in one specific situation (and could be lying), Molly Bloom’s anecdotes have become common fodder in the gaming world and entertainment world. The actors in the Molly’s Game movie are a pastiche of the actors in the book, and not identified by name.

Tin Cup Proposition Bets

Cheech Marin once described a proposition bet on the set of Tin Cup, in which Kevin Costner played a washed-up golfer. Phil Mickelson, who was playing himself in the film, took $1200 bet from the actors on the set whether he could hit a ball straight over a tree. He did, and collected the cash before the ball even landed.