Bestbet To Deepen Jacksonville Roots By Opening New Facility In St. Johns County

Posted By JR Duren on July 30, 2021

Third time’s the charm, right?

Bestbet, a company that owns two card room/simulcast facilities in the Jacksonville area, will build a third location south of Jacksonville in St. Johns County. The expansion marks a return to the St. Augustine area for the gaming company, which ran a card room in the county up until 2012.

In an interview with local media, bestbet President Jamie Johnson said his company is happy to be back in St. Johns and has pulled the permits necessary to start development.

“After the sale of the St. Johns County property we previously operated under our license in the county, bestbet has been examining various sites in the area and we are now moving forward with our next and newest facility,” Shelton said in an email to the Jacksonville Daily Record.

“The permits being applied for at the county level are part of our development process, and we look forward to keeping the community informed as we plan for the future in St. Johns County.”

New facility should boost bestbet’s burgeoning profile

Bestbet has done well to become the premier poker destination in Jacksonville. Allison Hollander, a local poker personality known as “Allie McDeal,” hosts a weekly bestbet poker show on local sports radio station 1010XL.

But while the brand’s influence in Jacksonville is apparent and likely stretches into St. Johns County, its facilities aren’t quite as universal in the region. Driving from St. Augustine to Jacksonville can get gummed up by traffic. And while avid players from St. Johns County may not bat an eye at a one-hour drive to find a seat, a local card room will be a welcome development.

The new facility will be smaller than the existing two Jacksonville locations, Shelton told the Jacksonville Daily Record. While he didn’t reveal too many other details, one could expect the St. Johns location to include gaming options offered at current bestbet locations:

  • Texas hold’em
  • Pai gow
  • One-card poker
  • Three-card poker
  • High-card flush poker
  • Seven-card stud
  • Seven-card high-low split stud
  • Omaha
  • Five-card Omaha

Bestbet is well-known for its continuous slate of poker tournaments. That includes low buy-ins, big prize pools and World Poker Tour events. The facilities also provide simulcast wagering.

Could card room conversion amendment lead to bigger things for bestbet?

Earlier this month, Florida Voters in Charge, a PAC funded by Las Vegas Sands, submitted a proposal to the Florida Division of Elections.

The amendment would allow card rooms to convert into casinos. The biggest implication of the conversion would be that card rooms like bestbet could offer Class III gaming, which includes blackjack, baccarat, roulette and other casino-style games.

Currently, only properties owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida can offer Class III gaming.

While the conversion would seem like a no-brainer for any of the bestbet facilities, it comes with a caveat. Anyone who wants a license has to prove they can come up with $250 million to invest in the development and completion of the conversion.

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JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey gambling beats for Catena Media. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun. Duren is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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