With construction workers still milling about in a parking lot that isn’t quite finished, on Wednesday the Casino at Dania Beach had a soft opening and unveiled its approximate $60 million revamp after closing over a year ago for renovations. The facility is planning a February 26 grand opening. Dania Beach Mayor Marco Salvino said, “It looks like a true Las Vegas-style casino,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The E. Dania Beach Blvd.’s old 5,000-seat stadium and Jai Alai court has been transformed into a flashy new gaming oasis with a 21-table poker room, 880 slot machines, a simulcast area, restaurants, sports bars, and an electronic gaming room with blackjack, roulette and craps. A no-smoking rule will be enforced in the entire facility. An updated new court with accommodations for 500 is available for Jai alai enthusiasts. The Jai alai games will be showcased on a large video screen on the casino’s main floor.
The Dania Beach casino is the last of four Broward County, Florida pari-mutuels to offer slots. By 2007, two years after voters approved slots in Broward County, the Mardi Gras Casino, Isle Casino and Racing, and Gulfstream Park all had slots. At that time the former Dania Jai-Alai was owned by Boyd Gaming. Citing the state’s 50 percent slot tax (now 35 percent) and competition from the nearby Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Boyd held off adding the machines. Then in 2011 Boyd announced a sale worth $80 million to Dania Entertainment Center LLC, but the deal fell through.
Scott Savin, CEO of Dania Entertainment Center is also the chief operating officer of Magic City Casino in Miami, by far the most lucrative of the Miami-Dade casinos. Two years ago a group of Argentine investors partnered with the Magic City team and will operate the new Dania casino. The Argentine businessmen are 75 percent stakeholders in the facility and they operate 27 casinos, under the name “Casino Club” throughout Argentina.
According to Savin, plans for a 500-room hotel have been nixed, and the focus is on “reinventing and rebranding jai alai.” The current roster of 36 players will play six days a week. By 2017 Savin hopes to bring women players in on the action. While larger acts will be showcased in Stage 954, a concert venue with seating for 850 on the second floor, local bands will perform on the first floor on Friday and Saturday nights. A wide-variety of slots will cater to all tastes, and on Fraday and Saturday nights a Las Vegas-style buffet named Luxe will be open with a brunch offering on Sundays.
Savin said that approximately 200 people came by to check out the new casino on Wednesday, and that he thinks the casino will challenge area competitors. Refering to the Hard Rock he said, “They probably don’t consider us a competitor. But I think we’ll get some of their customers, the people who live east. We’re smaller and more personal. We’re going to be a good local casino.”