DANIA BEACH, Fla. - After Argentinian actress Susana Gimenez cut the ceremonial ribbon at the grand opening of the Dania Casino and Jai-Alai, a crowd of VIPs streamed into the partially-renovated facility to sip champagne and enjoy the gleaming new slot machines.
The casino features 550 slot machines and 12 brand new poker tables.
The facility has come a long way since Jai-Alai was in its heyday and poker was the only game there.
"This property has been here for 57 years and it's been a lot of work -- facility work -- and we're very proud of what we've done," said Bernie Gamboa, the casino's marketing director.
Fort Lauderdale resident Connie Beal said she always enjoyed watching Jai-Alai. The slots are an added bonus.
"I've been coming here since 1974. So to see all this, it is so exciting," Beal said.
The casino is a few years late to the party, though. When Broward voters approved slots in 2006, the old Dania Jai-Alai never renovated. A company called Boyd Gaming bought it and later sold it at a loss. Then, in 2013, a group of Argentinian investors bought the property and construction began.
"I think we can compete with everybody and there is a place and the market is sufficiently open. We can manage it," said investor Federico de Achaval.
"We think it's the perfect timing for us. You've seen the development in the area -- Dania Beach and the airport right next to us is undergoing construction. So I think the timing is right," said Gamboa.
Gamboa said the next phase of renovation is expected within the year.
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