In August, I reported that Magic City Casino (450 NW 37th Ave., Miami, 305-649-3000, MagicCityCasino.com) had received state regulators’ approval to trade its greyhound racing for jai alai. But Magic City shared no specific plans at the time. I now have updates.
The dog track is currently in its annual off-season.
“We will feature greyhound racing in the month of June and then beginning in July change our pari-mutuel component over to jai alai,” spokeswoman Sandra Rodriguez says.
Jai alai is scheduled to premiere July 1, with a grand opening July 4. Performances will be played Wednesdays to Sundays.
The jai alai fronton is being constructed inside Stage 305, the casino’s indoor concert hall that has capacity for 850 guests.
“Everything [for the fronton] is being fabricated in Spain and is on schedule for shipping with installation scheduled to take place the last two weeks of May,” Rodriguez says. “Interior changes and improvements within Stage 305 are underway.”
She adds, “There are no immediate plans for the space that holds the greyhound track.”
In February, Magic City Casino hosted the first concert in its expanded amphitheater, where capacity was increased from 2,000 to 4,000 guests. The stage was erected on the track’s infield.
POKER SHOWDOWN BEGINS
The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, scheduled to start Thursday, April 5, runs until April 18 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 800-937-0010, SeminoleHardRockHollywood.com).
The first event is a deep-stack no-limit hold ’em with $570 buy-ins and $1 million guaranteed to be paid out. The tournament will host 22 events plus 40 secondary/satellite events.
As a main stop on the World Poker Tour, it ends with a $3 million championship that has $3,500 buy-ins. The final table will be broadcast on Fox Sports Network at a later date.
CASINO MIAMI TURNS 6
Casino Miami (3500 NW 37th Ave., 305-633-6400, PlayCasinoMiami.com) will celebrate its sixth anniversary from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, April 7.
As part of the merrymaking, two Ford cars — an Escape and a Fusion — will be given away, as will hourly free-play prizes up to $1,000. Entries to the drawings are free. Stop by the Viva Club until Friday to get them, drop them into boxes Saturday and then keep your fingers crossed.
The property was established in 1926 for watching and wagering on jai alai games. Over the decades, it became one of Miami’s marquee places for excitement — nicknamed the Yankee Stadium, it held up to 15,000 fans — but began to lose business in the 1980s because of a players’ strike, new betting options such as the state lottery and new pro sports with the Heat, Marlins and Panthers.
You can still watch and wager on jai alai there. On Saturday, performances will start at noon and 7 p.m.
Casino Miami currently doesn’t offer live poker, but it has about 1,000 slot machines, including electronic-table-game versions of blackjack and roulette. It stays open all weekend, from 10 a.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday.
ODDS AND ENDS
On Saturday, March 31, Audible won the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino (901 S. Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach, 954-454-7000, GulfstreamPark.com). The 3-year-old sprinted the course in 1:49.48 to win by three lengths for a payoff of $5.20.
The derby set a track record with a total handle of $49.9 million. Last year’s Florida Derby handle was $32.1 million.
Drag queens, comedians and bartenders, it’s time to start preparing for Season 7 of Ultimate Miami, which will again be held at Magic City Casino.
Finals for Ultimate Miami Comedian will be held May 31. Bartender finals will take place June 1, and the drag queen will be crowned June 2. Each winner receives $5,000 plus the title.
Bartender and drag queen entries are being taken until April 16 at TheUltimateMiami.com. The comedian category has two tryouts: April 17 at the Palm Beach Improv and April 18 at Magic City. Both start at 7:30 p.m.