Hard Rock’s $1.5bn Hollywood Casino Project Nearing Completion

More details are emerging about the Seminole tribe’s Hard Rock Casino and Hotel Hollywood in Florida. The project will amount to $1.5bn worth of investment and will be ready to open during mid-2019.

The casino is being built on the site of the former Hard Rock Café Hollywood. The café has already been moved and now has its own building beside the casino. It will open its doors again at the end of November.

The first area that will come to completion in this project after the café will be the casino. The two are seen as the most important aspects of the project, which is why the Seminole tribe wants to maximize its revenues.

The café and casino

The Hard Rock Café Hollywood has been open for some 14 years. It is a popular destination for tourists and is a key part of the Hard Rock brand.

The new building will take up 10,000 square feet and be able to seat more than 250 guests. It will offer many exciting new features for guests to enjoy.

One of the standout new features will be the memorabilia section, offering displays on stars such as Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.

In its current form, the casino has more than 100 different tables for the likes of blackjack and roulette. There are also more than 2,000 slot machines on offer for players.

The Seminole’s business in Florida

The Seminole tribe of Florida is one of three Seminole tribes that are recognized by the federal authorities.

The other two are the Miccosukee tribe of Indians, also in Florida, as well as the Seminole Nation in Oklahoma. The Seminole tribe of Florida has been recognized since 1957 and it currently has six reservations throughout the state.

The tribe has its own extensive network of casinos, operating seven casinos in Florida and one in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

These are:

  • Seminole Casino Brighton
  • Seminole Casino Immokalee
  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
  • Seminole Casino Big Cypress
  • Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
  • Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood
  • Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

The tribe’s headquarters is in Hollywood, California. Over 90% of its annual budget comes from gaming revenues, so this is big business that the tribe will try to protect at all costs.

Compact with the state

The Seminole tribe has a lucrative deal with the state of Florida that helps to protect its position in the casino market. The tribe has exclusive rights to certain casino games in the state in return for an annual payment of more than $300m to the government. This type of agreement first started in 2010; the current deal runs through the 2019 legislative session.

The tribe has the only facility that can offer blackjack, for example, and is the only party outside of the counties of Miami-Dade and Broward that can have slot machines. There is only a temporary compact in place, with a new deal up for negotiation in May 2019.

Talking about the latest deal, state Governor Rick Scott said: “Today, I am proud to announce that the state of Florida has reached an agreement with the Seminole tribe that ensures the tribe’s current commitment remains intact.

“Since I took office, the Seminole compact (the 2010 agreement) has generated more than $1.75bn which has helped our state make historic investments in things like Florida’s education and environment.”

Recent hurdles

One issue was up for a public vote during the November midterms that could jeopardize the tribe’s activities.

There has been a call for significant gambling reform in the state for some years. Amendment 3 would put the power in the hands of the public as to whether gambling laws should be expanded or not.

The people of Florida would largely be against gambling expansion, which is why the Seminole tribe made significant contributions to this campaign. Along with Walt Disney, it donated more than $36m to groups pushing forward the Amendment.

If gambling laws are expanded, then there will be more competition in the market and the tribe could lose significant revenues. Amendment 3 was passed, however, and therefore the tribe will be content for the moment that its position in the state is not in danger.