Poker dealers at Dania Jai Alai found grim news posted in the employee lockerroom when they arrived for work over the weekend: They'd be out of jobs on Sept. 23.
Dania Jai Alai will close its poker room and sports bar next Monday as the fronton embarks on a major renovation that will bring slot machines. Dealers, floor staff and kitchen/bar employees who have worked at the tight-knit but struggling room, which billed itself as "the friendliest poker room in town," will be let go.
A new poker room won't reopen until sometime in 2014. Dania Jai Alai was bought earlier this year for $65.5 million by a group that includes Argentinian casino operators, local investors and a Minnesota gambling firm.
At first, Dania Jai Alai management hoped to move the card room and keep it open during the renovation. But that proved logistically impossible.
Dania will keep running jai alai matches, because it needs to conduct a certain number a year to keep its slots license valid. Its simulcast center, offering horse and dog races from across the country, will remain open.
Poker players have plenty of other options, with the Seminole Hard Rock, Mardi Gras and Gulfstream casinos located within a seven-mile radius. Mardi Gras has taken up the cheap tournament niche that Dania once dominated: Mardi Gras will soon add a Saturday night freeroll to the ones it holds on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Dania will hold its usual tournaments this weekend. The final cards for a room that has been around since 1998 will be dealt Sunday night.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun