Slot Machines Coming To Hialeah Park


Slot Machines Coming To Hialeah Park

HIALEAH, Fla. — Construction began Sunday at Hialeah Park Race Track, as big changes are underway that could bring thousands of permanent jobs to South Florida.

In December 2010, Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina announced that the Florida Gaming Commission has approved the installation of slot machines and card rooms at Hialeah Park.

“Hialeah Park has received from the state of Florida their slot license,” Robaina said.

The owners of the 77-year-old Hialeah Park have faced an uphill battle. The track has hosted quarterhorse racing for the last two years after closing from 2001 to 2009, but the park’s business is not sustainable. Slot machines are expected to give the track much-needed revenue to reach the owners’ final goal.

“To bring thoroughbred racing back as it was initially founded at Hialeah back in 1925,” said track owner John Brunetti Jr.

Last week, a judge shut down part of a lawsuit by Calder Casino and Race Course, Flagler Dog Track and Miami Jai-Alai trying to stop Hialeah Park from getting slot machines.

Hialeah Park could have its new casino up and running a year from now. The owners plan to install a 90,000-square-foot luxury casino with card rooms and 800 slot machines.

Robaina said that the project will create permanent jobs in addition to the 3,000 construction jobs.

“Preserving what’s there and adding new buildings, new casinos, new entrances, new areas of entertainment that in the long run will bring additional jobs — over 8,000 permanent jobs,” Robaina said.

For a city with a 15 percent unemployment rate, job growth is hard to come by. State Rep. Steve Bovo called the project “a job creator, an economic stimulus that is homegrown.”

The Brunetti family already has spent about $9 million renovating the park, and they plan now to move ahead with a privately funded $85 million expansion.

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