Genting became a name known to South Florida in 2011 when it embarked on a plan to open a hotel-casino. On June 4, the company did open such a property — about 50 miles east of the old Miami Herald site.
It’s in another country, and it’s much smaller, but what the heck.
Officials celebrated the grand opening of the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini on Saturday as they completed construction of a 305-room hotel, connected to a casino the company opened in 2013.
The Hilton partially opened in April 2015, but visitors still needed to be shuttled to the casino — only about 100 yards away — because of major hotel construction taking place between the two points. On Saturday, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie and Genting Group Chairman KT Lim led a ribbon-cutting outside the main hotel entrance, and the indoor hallway between the hotel and the casino opened, as well as other Phase II portions: a pool atop the five-story building, a ground-floor lazy river, a spa and more dining.
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Resorts World Bimini also can offer the entire slate of casino games. Race-track casinos in Florida have only slots, electronic table games and poker, and the Seminole Casinos also have blackjack, baccarat and other table games. So Bimini is the closest venue for craps, roulette and a sports book (but there aren’t enough people for poker). The casino is small: about 160 slot machines and 15 table games, approximately one-tenth of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood, for example.
Resorts World Bimini follows the model of other Genting properties by not sticking slot machines in customers’ faces. (The plan for Resorts World Miami called for the gambling to be located up on the fourth floor.) Such an “integrated resorts” approach is possible for the company because most of their business is based on table games and bigger players, and less on slot-machine play and a large volume.
Resorts World bought property in Miami in 2011, then failed to persuade the Florida Legislature to allow resort-style casinos in Florida. Lim began working with Bimini officials in 2012 to open Resorts World Bimini, reviving a vision he had back in 1999. (It stalled.) Genting bought the Bimini Bay Resort, built a new casino and embarked on building the Hilton while renting out nearby villas to gamblers.
Currently, there are 42 charter, seaplane or commercial flights a week to Bimini, and Genting is working with the government for an expanded landing strip, which would mean bigger and better planes bringing in customers. Lim also announced Saturday that Genting will begin another boat transportation plan — this time with a sleek passenger ferry instead of the Bimini SuperFast cruise ship that shut down in January — sometime this summer.
The current seaplane solution is very nice for those who take it — fewer than 30 minutes from Miami and not even a hint of cruise-ship style customs logjams — but a round-trip flight is about $400 and it doesn’t work for the masses.
Bimini is a collection of islands and is the westernmost of the Bahamas islands, about 50 miles from Miami. The hotel rates are about $250 per night. Visit RWBimini.com for more information.
For a photo gallery of the opening and new hotel features, go to southfloridagambling.com/resorts-world-bimini-june-2016.
Players can enter Hialeah Park’s $50,000 guaranteed poker tournament at 11 a.m. or 7 p.m. through Saturday. Those with chips remaining play for a $15,000 first prize on Sunday. The buy-in is $100. There are also $100 tournaments at 6 p.m. the next three Wednesdays and at 7 p.m. Saturdays through June 18.
▪ Magic City Casino will host the final round of its fifth annual Ultimate Miami talent competition this weekend and next. The finals will begin at 8 p.m. Friday June 10 with singers. Admission is $10. At 9 p.m. Saturday is drag queens ($20), then Ultimate Miami Bartender and Ultimate Miami Dessert Maker competitions at 7:30 p.m. June 17. Admission is $40 and includes drink and dessert samples. Comedians are at 8 p.m. June 18. Admission is $40, which includes a set by Carlos Mencia.
▪ Casino Miami has a $10,000 Free Play Bonanza from 3 p.m. to midnight Sunday, and Timbalive plays a free show at 9 p.m. Saturday.
▪ The Belmont Stakes is anticlimactic after Nyquist faltered in the Preakness, but maybe that’ll make for better gambling action. The race is Saturday, and Gulfstream Park, which also has live racing Saturday, has promotions connected to the event, including drawings to place free bets on the Belmont. Ten Palms also offers its buffet for $59.99, and Belmont Breeze cocktails bought property-wide include a free collectible glass.
▪ Seminole Casino Coconut Creek is enticing patrons to visit level2, the smoke-free second floor. Ten slot players with their cards inserted on level2 will win $500 cash at 8 p.m., followed by 10 winners of $750 cash at 9 p.m. and three winners of $2,500 cash at 10 p.m.
Get daily gambling news at SouthFloridaGambling.com.