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Kings Court - Wrapup 'til 2019?



Florida City completes jai-alai requirement — with busted glass and minimal action

By Nick Sortal
October 10, 2017 11:46 AM


Gonzalo Vivanco, left, and Iñigo Calzacorta own a company that builds jai-alai courts.
They hustled up to build one in Florida City, but the glass wall, shown behind them, broke four times.
Nick Sortal
Jai-alai could be on hiatus until May 2019 at Kings Court, the new facility in Florida City, and that might be a good thing for management: Players broke the front glass wall four times slinging the pelota and hitting just the wrong spot.

Hialeah Park officials bought land just north of the Florida Keys and built a fronton using a state law that granted them an extra pari-mutuel permit. The venue opened in mid-June and when the fiscal year began July 1, officials zipped through 58 performances of eight games each.

Those are magic numbers. That’s the minimum number of games required for Florida City to open a poker room. Those 58 performances in July meant that Kings Court has met its obligation for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.

So the next requirement is to run 58 performances by June 30, 2019. Management can resume action by May 2019 and easily get to 58 by running afternoon-evening doubles. Jai-alai fans, that means it’ll be almost two years before the game returns to Florida City.


Legally, jai-alai at Florida City doesn’t need to resume until May 2019.
Courtesy/Kings Court


That will give them time to figure out a big problem. A company from Markina (in the Basque country on the border of France and Spain) installed the unique glass court, which they said was popular in their home country. But players kept hitting the metal strips that connect the glass panels, and the screws have been shattering the glass — sending everyone home.

Gambling action was been epic-slow anyway. Recently released state records show a total of $1,914 wagered in July and $1,081 in August. That averages out to about $4 per game. (Two minimum $2 bets.) Just by comparison, the frontons at the Casino @ Dania Beach and at Casino Miami, which are near-deserted, still garner about $200,000 per month in bets.

But a pari-mutuel with no action is not quite the point here anyway. The whole setup, as dictated by our state laws, is that a poker room can exist only if there’s a horse track, dog track or jai-alai fronton attached.

And for a six-table poker room, Kings Court has done OK. They take in more than $100,000 per month, although September figures might be spotty because of the impact Hurricane Irma had in south Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys. And the Florida City jai-alai building still houses simulcast betting, for those who want to wager on horse, dog or jai-alai action conducted elsewhere in the country.


Miami Herald article (partial)

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