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Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino Offers Virtual Blackjack Machines

Blackjack is coming to South Florida pari-mutuels, but the casino dealer is on a television monitor and there is an electronic board instead of blackjack chips. Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach started offering virtual blackjack on December 5th, 2009, shortly after Florida signed off on its checklist of rules and regulations.

Five blackjack players who can wager $5 to $100 sit around a television monitor. Each player receives a pair of cards. The casino dealer on the screen then asks each gamer if he or she wants to hit, split, double down or stand and plays out the card hand.

In October 2009, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering approved virtual blackjack and Broward County's three state supervised casino facilities started filing the needed paperwork to add the virtual blackjack machines. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood has had live blackjack since June 2008.

Virtual Blackjack manufacturer Shuffle Master Incorporated agreed to give Gulfstream Park Virtual Blackjack first. The Isle Casino and Racing in Pompano Beach and Mardi Gras Gaming in Hallandale Beach plan to add the game on December 21st, 2009.

Gulfstream Vice President Steve Calabro expects that each of the five seats at the four banks of the Virtual Blackjack machines will earn more than a slot machine would, which is between $100 and $200 per day. He said that he does not have large expectations about the installation of the game but the idea is that the machines are one more attraction to lure people through the door.

Calabro said that it add another weapon to their arsenal. Gulfstream players who like the slot machines, horse races and poker now have an additional gaming option as will shopper when a mall opens on the facility next year.

The advertising campaign takes a shot at the Seminole tribe, who promise $10 blackjack all day. The Gulfstream advertisement says, $5 blackjack is finally here. The Virtual Blackjack machines are called "Royal Match 21", because they feature side wager.

If a player bets one dollar and is given king-queen of the same suit, it pays $25. The pari-mutuel facilities successfully argued that the Virtual Blackjack machines are legal because it operates on a random number generator-the inside guts of a slot machine-so they are essentially classified as slot machines, which voters in Miami-Dade and Broward County have approved.

About thirty other states also have ruled that the machines are classified as slot machines. The same state decision approved video Roulette and Keno, which the Seminoles also have.

Gulfstream Park added video Roulette last week, with video Keno coming in a few weeks. Mardi Gras and Isle officials said that they hope to offer video Roulette and Keno later this month.


Monday, December 21 , 2009
Kim Watson