MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On the same day state lawmakers start looking over a measure which would bring three destination resorts to south Florida, Miami Jai-Alai’s multi-million dollar casino-expansion took a huge step forward with the arrival of more than one thousand shiny, new slot machines.
Wednesday morning workers began unloading the Vegas-style slot machines which will be placed in the new 35,000 square foot state of the art casino which also features poker and dominos. Miami Jai-Alai, at 3500 NW 37th Avenue, is the only pari-mutuel in the country where visitors can gamble on dominos.
The 85-year old fronton which drew huge crowds in its heyday had fallen into disrepair in the last couple of years. Its owners decided to take advantage of a measure approved by voters in January 2008 which permits Las Vegas-style slot machines at area pari-mutuels. It’s the third pari-mutuel to do so in the county. The old Flagler Dog Track now has the Magic City Casino and there’s Calder Casino and Race Course.
The Jai-Alai casino is now looking to hire 350 full time workers for the new casino. Marlena Evans, who interviewed Wednesday morning for a cocktail waitress position, was excited by the new casino.
“It means a lot, it means the economy is getting better,” said Evans. “Miami is growing and big things are about to happen, I’m excited.”
The $87 million casino project has also put hundreds of construction workers to work at a time when construction jobs are few and far between.
“It means a lot,” said construction worker Daniel Ramos, “It means staying busy every day which is important. To be able to pay your bills means it’s working, working, working.”
The fronton’s owners are confident casino will be a winner with both their new and old clientele.
“The still remember those wonderful times they used to have here and I’m confident that they’re going to come back and visit us again,” said Rene Guim with Miami Jai-Alai Casino.
In addition to the gambling, the expansion will have new restaurants and the place for live concerts.