BestBet Jacksonville

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The opening of a new poker room is the topic of conversation for students and faculty across campus. The Poker Room at the BestBet Jacksonville opened Thursday, March 1 across the street from the Regency Square Mall.

BestBet’s poker room is the largest in the state, with 70 poker tables, a full food and beverage service and an area to watch and bet on greyhound races, horse races and jai alai.

Residents of the area have openly discussed concerns. Many are worried that it will bring an increase of criminal activity and an eventual decline of property values in the surrounding area.

On the other hand, BestBet believes it is assisting the area instead of hindering it. The new business has created approximately 260 jobs with an average yearly salary of $50,000, according to their website. This creation of so many jobs is said to potentially benefit the economy of Jacksonville.

Deborah Giardina, the executive director of Poker Operations, said the launch of the new poker room, “will have a very positive impact on this area.”

“With the customers we bring in, they will be putting money into the restaurants, the hotels, the dry cleaners, to name a few,” Giardina said.

Students agree this new prospect could greatly benefit Jacksonville residents and economy.

“I think that it’s a great opportunity for the residents of Jacksonville,” said sophomore Brittani Wyskocil. “It provides variety in activities. I understand how crime can be a concern, but with proper guidance and supervision, I don’t see much of an issue.”

Administrators do not feel that the opening of BestBet so close to campus will affect students.

“We’ve never really had a problem with our students gambling,” said John Balog, Ph.D., the vice-president of the Student Life Office.

On the other hand, students are having mixed feelings about it. Some are excited to have more activities to do while others think the new poker room will bring people with shady reputations to town.

“It might help the economy and social life but I fear it may bring dirty Duval-ers,” said freshman Thomas Bzura.

Currently, the legal gambling age in the state of Florida for races and poker is 18 years old. This means that most of the student body can legally participate at BestBet.

“It’s convenient for the JU student who enjoys a recreational card game,” said freshman James Palmer.

Several students were excited for the introduction of new entertainment in the area. Junior Brooke Shelton has previously been to a poker room and spoke about a good, yet responsible time.

“I have been to poker rooms before,” Shelton said. “It’s good competitive fun.”

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