Seminoles Plan Entertainment Complex for Coconut Creek, Fla., Casino

Figuring that they'll never go broke by betting on gamblers, the Seminole Tribe is planning to offer some of the same non-gaming entertainment at its Coconut Creek Casino that its Hollywood sister casino has.

The expansion is in response to a big local and tourist interest in gambling, said Seminole Tribal Council representative Max Osceola.

"What we did in Hollywood has exceeded our expectations, and we expect the same will happen in Coconut Creek," Osceola said.

Though Coconut Creek city officials have not even seen the expansion plans yet, City Manager John Kelly says he expects they will be approved.

Already, Coconut Creek receives $1.5 million annually from the Seminoles, Kelly said.

And if Las Vegas-style slot machines are approved in a planned special election this spring, Seminole revenues to the city would jump to $2 million.

"Class 3 slot machines bring in a lot of gamblers," Kelly said.

The Seminoles intend to create a smaller version of the entertainment complex they have at the Hollywood site.

Most of the patrons at the Coconut Creek site, near U.S. 441 and Sample Road, will be South Floridians and tourists, Kelly said.

The first part of the Coconut Creek expansion will include a 300-seat buffet restaurant and a 60-seat lounge with an entertainment stage, said James Allen, head of the tribe's gaming operations.

The project is expected to take six months and could start as early as March. Some of the facilities could be open as early as September, Allen said.

The second part of the expansion is under discussion, but has not been approved by the Tribal Council or submitted to the city.

It includes plans for a 300- to 500-room hotel, an estimated 350,000-square-foot low-rise center consisting of restaurants, theaters, ballrooms, nightclubs and a 20,000-square-foot spa.

Long-term, pending tribal and city approval, the actual gaming facility likely will triple in size -- with new poker tables, bingo games and electronic gaming devices.

Allen said the Coconut Creek casino needed an improvement to remain competitive.

"Certainly, expanding it will help attract more visitors," he said.

The Coconut Creek expansion mirrors the lucrative example found in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, which keeps its casinos alive by offering attractions geared to people who otherwise would not visit a casino or ever try gambling, said gaming expert Alan Meister, economist and manager of the Analysis Group, which tracks Indian gaming and publishes the annual Indian Gaming Industry Report.

"This expansion is in line with the growing trend among Indian gaming facilities toward adding non-gaming amenities like hotels, restaurants, convention centers, and entertainment and retail," Meister said.