Dania Entertainment Center, purchased from Boyd Gaming in May by a group of Argentine businessmen for $65.5 million, has begun a massive renovation to install slots, thus becoming the last of the eight parimutuel facilities in Dade and Broward counties to do so.
Unfortunately, the building plan has forced owners to sacrifice the poker room for virtually the remainder of 2013.
The Dania Beach facility, which has hosted jai-alai games since 1953 along with a poker room since the late 1990s, closed its 26-table room on Sept. 23 with hopes of reopening in a new location inside the building in December.
About 30 poker employees were let go, and will be given the opportunity to reapply when to room is re-established in an area known as the SkyBox near the jai-alai court’s back wall. In its place on the second floor will be 500 slot machines.
Original plans had the room remaining open while construction of the casino commenced, but after a closer look at the logistics of the renovation emerged, that proved to be impossible.
Billing itself as “the friendliest room in town,” Dania’s bottom line for poker was less-than-friendly, as the room ranked 22nd out of Florida’s 23 cardrooms, taking in about $750K in revenues for the year ending in June 2013.
Contrast that with state’s top four facilities, which took in between $10 million and $14 million each during the 2012-13 fiscal year. The Argentine group, which operates 27 casinos in South America under the name Casino Club, expressed a desire to get slot revenues established as quickly as possible, as history has seen the poker bottom lines at other South Florida facilities nearly triple in recent years.
PALM BEACH CASINO SHIP: The Island Breeze II, originally planned to begin day cruises from the Port of Palm Beach in August, continues to refurbish the former Black Diamond ship, a 160-foot vessel that ceased operations in February.
That ship proved to be a colossal failure after lasting just three months, with poor marketing, weather issues and staffing problems blamed for its early demise.
Though no official date had been announced at press time, port officials were anticipating a late October or early November launch of the 600-passenger boat, which will feature a full casino with 14 poker tables, 21 table games and 220 slot machines, in addition to a sportsbook.
Operated by New Jersey-based Island Breeze International, the refurbished ship is hoping to fill the void in Palm Beach County left by the closing of the Palm Beach Princess, which ended similar cruises in early 2010.
LEHAVOT’S NOVEMBER NINE CHARGE: Weston resident Amir Lehavot will be South Florida’s only participant at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event, but he may not even have the active support of the area’s many poker fans.
The Israeli native raised eyebrows by publicly announcing on Twitter and the 2+2 forum his plan to sell shares of his November Nine action, with each percentage point (up to 30 percent) available to prospective buyers for $29,248 apiece.
With more than $733K paid out to each of the nine finalists and thus subtracted from any potential payouts, investors will need at least a third-place finish by Lehavot to turn a profit.
Entering the final table in second place with almost 30 million chips, and with a 2011 pot-limit hold’em bracelet to his credit, Lehavot is expected to challenge for the $8.36 million first prize, but if he sells all 30 percent of his shares, the return for a victory to a one-point investor will be about $76K.
— Email Dave Lemmon at email@example.com.