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Whacked By Hurricane Irma, Hallandale Beach Casino’s Slots Are Spinning Again

Eight months since Hurricane Irma stormed through South Florida, the Mardi Gras Casino has been resurrected as the Big Easy and is now fully open

Slots are spinning again at the casino now known as The Big Easy. (Image: Nick Sortal)

Slots are spinning again at the casino now known as The Big Easy.

The former Mardi Gras Casino was shellacked by Hurricane Irma on Sept. 10, with water seeping throughout the Hallandale Beach property. The poker room portion re-opened in December, but the slots part resumed action only Monday – eight months later.

“Players keep calling, asking us when they can see what we’ve done,” Big Easy manager Dan Adkins said. “They are going to be very happy with the results.”

There are 512 slots on the south portion of the first floor now, with another 300 coming to the central part of the casino. The 18-slot open-air patio, created for smokers, is back in action, with plans to add a bar and build an outdoor area of up to 90 machines.

Simulcast wagering, which had operated on the first floor after the poker room reopened, is now back at its home-before-the-hurricane, the second floor.

New carpet and ceiling highlight the first floor, which includes a mix of newer Wheel of Fortune, Quick Hit and Dream Money games, along with traditional versions of Stinkin’ Rich, Wolf Run and Bombay.

“This place was destroyed,” Adkins said. “We had employees working round-the-clock with pumps, brooms and shovels. We had a waterfall in here.”

Keeping water damage to a minimum save mold problems, he said.

“The employees saved this building,” said Adkins, who first worked on property in 1981, on the dog racing side.

A core group of employees stayed on during the closure, but many were let go. The jobs are being refilled as action picks up.

It was also an active eight months in other facets of the casino’s operation. The casino had been owned by Hartman and Tyner, Inc., although shifting occurred after co-owner Tyner died. Adkins and the surviving relatives traded lawsuits, and at one point Adkins was set to retire.

But the owner of the Fontainebleau Resort and the Aventura Mall, Jeffrey Soffer, stepped in and bought the Hallandale Beach property, with plans to either redevelop the property or perhaps obtain permission from the Florida Legislature to move the license and operate a casino elsewhere in South Florida. Adkins stayed on to manage the casino.

“With just this one property, I feel like I’m semi-retired,” Adkins joked. “But he’s willing to put in the money where the other owners didn’t.”

Adkins said he is also hoping an amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot that bans dog racing in the state passes.

“If so, we could use that space for redevelopment,” Adkins said.

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