Refurbished jai-alai fronton gets into casino game

 The $87 million expansion to Miami Jai-Alai is complete, and the grand opening is today.

  It will be called Casino Miami Jai-Alai and include 1,050 slot machines with all the games everyone else has, including penny slots, an expanded poker room, dominoes and live shows. 

 According to a news release, the 5 p.m. opening will include: William B. Collett Sr., Chairman, Florida Gaming Corporation; William Bennett Collett Jr., CEO, Florida Gaming Corporation; Daniel J. Licciardi, Executive Vice President & COO for Florida Gaming Corporation; James Ahearn, Dave Jonas and Rene Guim, Equity Partners, Miami Casino Management; Eduardo Rodriguez, President, Florida Lemark Corporation, General Contractor. City officials and community leaders.

  The release also said they'll be taking signups for the Viva Club, which offers up to $50 of free slot play at the time of sign up. My take is it'll be similar to the other players' clubs, although whether their free play model is more like Calder (lots of free play) or Magic City (much less, but other amenities) is yet to be seen. 

   For those of you on Mapquest, Casino Miami Jai-Alai is at 3500 NW 37th Ave.,  Miami. It's near the airport. Their web right now is still being launched: it's at

  Officials say the new casino brings 350 jobs to the area, and was privately funded. The casino actually had a very quiet open Monday night, shortly after clearing the required state inspections (which is rigorous).

 The casino opening is one of three that Miam-Dade voters approved in a 2008 slot referendum. The two others, Calder Casino & Race Course, and Magic City Casino (Flagler Dog Track) have already opened. The vote came way back when destination casinos were only a twinkle in some people's eye -- and was a followup to Broward's vote that brought slots to the Isle in Pompano Beach, Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach and Mardi Gras in Hallandale Beach. (Dania Jai-Alai also is eligible to add slots, but hasn't yet.) All pari-mutuel casinos are smoke-free, as required by the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act. (The casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida allow smoking, although some have non-smoking areas.)

  I'll have an update online later today. Just asking, as a Broward guy who is now been through his share of casino openings and upgrades: What elements of this story do you want to read about (email me at

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