Former Florida Gaming Corporation CEO William Bennett “Benny” Collett, Jr. passed away on the morning of November 22, 2022, in Indiana. He was 67. The cause of death is unknown, but he did suffer from diabetes, like many of us.
For nearly two decades, he oversaw operations of the largest frontons in Florida. Unfortunately, it was not the best of times for the sport and business of jai alai. The strike, followed by the lottery and other gambling options all but crippled the game. Property selloffs were inevitable.
In one of the saddest days I can remember, Tampa Jai-alai sold its vast 40-acre site to Monroe’s Prestige Group for $8.3 million in 1998, shutting down the legendary fronton July 4th of that year. Shortly afterwards, a Home Depot and Sam’s Club were built on the site. It was only the beginning of the end of what was once a very profitable company.
Mr. Collett was featured in a few of Marty Fleischman’s stories this past summer in the Pelota Press, which can be viewed in the Archives section under “News”.
Benny is survived by his wife Rose, his children Katie and Kyle, his granddaughters Lila and Lennox , and his Uncle Gene and Aunt Bennie.