Following a two-month delay, West Flagler Associates (owners of Magic City Casino) has gained “conditional approval” of the sale their casino in what is being considering the biggest casino deal in the state of Florida’s history.
The sale, estimated to be around $600 million dollars in cash*, would turn over operations to PCI Gaming, which is owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. They would have control of the slot machines, electronic casino games and poker, but would have no effect on Magic City Jai-alai which will continue to operate as normal.
The Havenick family has owned the lucrative property for decades which for most of the time was known as Flagler Dog Track. Today, it is the highest grossing “racino”, or former pari-mutual venue in the state of Florida that is allowed to operate slot machines and poker.
The CEO and President of Wind Creek Hospitality, Jay Dorris, said there is big plans coming to the property. The closed dog track, comprised of 30 acres of property unused, would likely become a huge luxury casino and entertainment resort. Plans like this sound like something on the line with the Hard Rock but without live blackjack and other card games and could make the casino even more profitable than it is now. There would be nothing like it in Miami, especially with no further casino expansion expected, especially from some powerful gaming companies like The Genting Group from Asia.
All the current employees of Magic City Casino will continue employment, except senior executives like Scott Savin, who will continue to run the jai-alai portion of it. They could also investigate opening that jai-alai and poker facility in the Edgewater neighborhood (near downtown Miami) that they had gained approval on a couple years ago.
For us jai-alai fans, this is great news. Magic City jai-alai would have the potential to reach many more people (if they open their doors more often to the public) at that site or investigate building a new court in Edgewater in a nice location while operating poker at the same time. West Flagler would also have control of the Bonita Springs Poker room, which is between Ft. Myers and Naples. A dog track operated on that site for decades also.
Two months ago, the sale of the casino was put on hold by the Florida Gaming Control Commission, the nearly formed entity that was part of the Governor Ron DeSantis’ “gambling package” that included jai-alai decoupling and sports betting to be exclusively run by the Seminole Tribe. Ironically, the West Flagler group successfully sued and had the sports betting deal halted after a 40-day run. The decision is now under an appeal before a three-person circuit appeals panel, and a split vote, expected to go either way, should be coming sometime in the next few months. It is not known what will happen if the appeal is upheld or overruled and if West Flagler would be involved anymore.
According to the Windcreek website, the new owners are adding properties “faster than you can spin a roulette wheel”. They are no strangers to Florida and parimutuel wagering, as they do own the Pensacola Greyhound Park. They own several casinos in the United States and the Caribbean.
Sounds like a win-win situation for everybody involved including the new casino owners with their plans on the dog track location, the Havenick family ($600 million!!*) and our jai-alai visionary guys like Scott Savin and Stu.
*Not disclosed but the figure has been estimated by “industry experts.”