Slots Casino Planned for Broward County, Fla.

POMPANO BEACH -- Broward County's first non-Indian slots casino will start construction within two weeks and be open for New Year's Eve, the Pompano Park harness track said Wednesday.

Pompano Park Racing, which operates the track, said it expects to get a building permit as early as Monday for a 157,000-square-foot building that will hold as many as 2,000 slot machines. Jerome Sanzone, the city's building official, confirmed approval of the permit is near.

"We're very excited about our future. It's going to be gorgeous," Pompano Park General Manager Dick Feinberg said.

The Pompano Beach Planning and Zoning Board approved the site plan for the $1.6 million Phase 1, which calls for the slots and a poker room, last week. The plan also calls for large TV screens showing live races in tracks across the country so people can watch and wager while they eat, two large bar/lounges, a medium-priced food court and two upscale restaurants with up to 500 seats.

County voters in March approved a referendum to allow slots at Gulfstream Park and Hollywood Greyhound Track in Hallandale Beach, Dania Jai-Alai and Pompano Park, with all tax revenues going to public education statewide. Since then, the Legislature has been trying to draw up rules of operation.

Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper said conceptual site plans for Hollywood Greyhound Track have been shown to city leaders, but not formally submitted. Partial plans for Gulfstream Park have been submitted, but only the plans for a new grandstand have been approved, she said. Dania Beach City Manager Ivan Pato said plans for Dania Jai-Alai have not been submitted.

In Pompano Beach, track officials are plunging ahead.

While the artist rendering shows a plain building on the outside, Pompano Park spokesman Steve Wolf said the inside "will have tall spacious ceilings, a gigantic two-story, half of which is open so when you're on the second level you'll be able to overlook the entire casino floor."

The 41-year-old Pompano Park harness track, near Atlantic Boulevard and Powerline Road, already attracts thousands of spectators four nights a week to gamble at the races and poker tables. The casino will have a Caribbean theme.