Missouri company lets purchase option on Miami Jai-Alai expire, remains mum on whether lowered slot profit expectations influenced decision
By Risa Polansky
Missouri-based Isle of Capri Casinos has let its option to buy Miami Jai-Alai expire.
Neither Capri nor fronton owner Florida Gaming Corp. would say whether lowered expectations for profits from slot machines influenced the decision. But W. Bennett Collett, Florida Gaming chairman and CEO, said he expects to make money from slots at the fronton.
Capri, which in 2004 obtained an exclusive right to negotiate a purchase of the more-than-80-year-old fronton, allowed exclusivity to lapse July 29. The company "does not comment on development decisions," spokesman Jill Haynes said.
Mr. Collett said his company is "not necessarily" set on selling. "We're studying our options."
Miami-Dade residents in January voted to allow Las Vegas-style slots at pari-mutuels.
Some have high hopes for the slots.
Flagler Sports and Entertainment Center officials are planning a $100 million revamp of the dog-racing and gambling complex.
The possibility of offering slots at jai-alai was a linchpin in the 2004 agreement with Isle of Capri. Now, Miami Jai-Alai is "just getting ready to put them in," Mr. Collett said.
He said lack of a sale is not a sign the slots may not prove as profitable as many once thought.
Broward's three pari-mutuels with slots are seen as under-performing. They've generated about $11.8 million in net slot revenue this year, the state says.
Less-than-expected slots performance at the Broward sites contributed to the decision in February not to add slots at Dania Jai-Alai, said David Stow, spokesman for Las Vegas-based owner Boyd Gaming.
He said the state's agreement to let the Seminole Tribe have Las Vegas-style slots, Florida's 50%-plus tax on gaming revenues and approval of Las Vegas slots in Miami-Dade were factors.