At peak hours, bumper-to-bumper traffic piles up outside the new Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood all the way to the Florida Turnpike.

Dan Calvig, a 20-year-old from Coral Gables has been in the middle of it, knowing that once he makes it through, he still may have to wait another three hours for a chance to get to a poker table. But, he said, the payoff of playing is worth it.

Eddie Fernandez said he hit the jackpot when he snagged a job as a juggler entertaining children at the casino's new Paradise retail and entertainment center. It meant the 32-year-old could stay near his Hollywood home, rather than work on a cruise ship.

Across the street though, diner owner J.J. Felipe wonders how he is going to compete with the free food the casino offers at lunchtime.

While no one knows for certain what will happen if voters approve Las Vegas-style slots for Broward pari-mutuels on March 8, the experiences of Calvig, Fernandez and Felipe offer a clue.

There is certain to be flashy new entertainment, a tourism bonanza, new jobs and a mini-construction boom, but there is also the specter of more traffic jams, increased costs for local police, fire and paramedics, and while some suppliers may profit, other local business owners will get wiped out.

If the slots come, the most affected neighborhoods will be those surrounding the new slot casinos at Dania Jai Alai in Dania Beach, Gulfstream Park and the Hollywood Greyhound Track in Hallandale and Pompano Park Racing in Pompano Beach. A separate referendum in Miami-Dade County will ask voters to allow Las Vegas-style slot machines at Calder Race Course, Miami Jai Alai and Flagler Greyhound Track.

If passed, those neighborhoods can expect seven new sprawling casinos that rival the Hard Rock, with 1,700 to 2,500 slot machines, according to estimates from the state Legislature. That would rival the Hard Rock's 2,000 machines and most of the casinos in Las Vegas, such as the newly remodeled Bally's Las Vegas, with almost 1,500 machines, and Mandalay Bay with 2,200.


Construction of the 100-acre Hard Rock complex poured more than $400 million into the economy, created 3,000 permanent jobs and buys millions of dollars worth of goods and services in Broward, says Hard Rock spokesman Gary Bitner. It hosts thousands of visitors daily, who stay in the 500-room hotel, shop in the 300,000 square-foot retail complex and gamble.

"It's a positive for business. What they have done to bring people to our area is terrific. These people spend money," said Patricia Asseff, a realtor and past president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

But Felipe, owner of J. J. Diner near Griffin Road and State Road 7, across the street from the Hard Rock, said his business has been seriously damaged since the opening of the casino.

"They are giving away free lunches, free drinks. At 11 o'clock lunch, the people are over there," said Felipe, who said his business has been down $3,000 a week since the casino opened in May 2004. Felipe said he knew of at least four restaurants within miles of the Hard Rock that have gone out of business even though traffic is up.

Traffic along State Road 7 has risen at least 15 percent since the casino opened, from roughly 21,000 to 25,000 cars daily, state Department of Transportation numbers show.

The traffic may be worse than indicated by the state figures, which were last calculated midweek in July 2004, before the December opening of the Paradise retail and entertainment section with its rock shows, nightclubs and restaurants. The counts also were done for a 24-hour period and do not reflect that much of the increased traffic is squeezed into a few nighttime peak hours for the casino.

Paramedic calls along State Road 7 have gone from one a month to almost two a day, says Joe Rohan, the interim Hollywood Fire Chief.


A smaller Indian casino already operating in Coconut Creek has had no discernable effect on the city, but that might change soon, according to City Manager John Kelly.

If voters agree to allow horse and dog tracks to have Las Vegas style slots, the county's Indian casinos will also be entitled to bring in the machines.