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Jai alai and poker site in downtown Miami approved by state

July 20, 2018

South Florida gamblers may soon have another option for poker and jai alai games in downtown Miami.  What’s next?  Gambling and Casinos in Edgewater (check out our Feature on Casinos in Miami)

A recently approved gambling facility slated for Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood could be constructed on the former site of Legal Services of Greater Miami within the next two years.

On July 3, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering approved a “summer jai lai” permit to West Flagler Associates Ltd. It allows the company to operate a poker room and jai alai fronton (court or playing area) at the 3000 block of Biscayne Boulevard. West Flagler Associates COO Scott Savin said there will be no slot machines.

The summer provision means the site can only host jai alai games between May and November, but it can keep poker rooms open year-round, said Robert Jarvis, a professor of gambling law at Nova Southeastern University.

The site could employ between 300 to 500 people, and the company is looking into alternative uses, such as live entertainment, in the winter months, Savin added.

An analysis by Miami-based real estate data firm Gridics indicates that the site’s current zoning should comply with West Flagler’s proposal.

The state approval comes as voters in November will decide on a ballot initiative that could create a ripple effect for the entire pari-mutuel industry, Jarvis said.

If approved, dog racing and its betting would be phased out of pari-mutuels, but the sites would be able to keep their card rooms. Jarvis said other pari-mutuels that offer jai alai and horse racing would eventually push for a similar result.

West Flagler Associates also owns Magic City Casino, which launched its first jai alai season July 1 after running its final greyhound race at the end of June.

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