Fay, lame lassy that she was, didn’t stop South Florida’s gamblers from seizing on the excuse to hunker down at a felt table. As the squall squealed Monday evening, the Miccosukee casino swelled as if it was Stimulus Check Season all over again. Besides the crowds surrounding the poker room and slot machines, the blue-hair-and-walker set showed en masse, eagerly plugging away at Bingo cards with fat black markers.
Casino employees are accustomed to crowds during hurricane season. “Whenever there’s a storm threatened,” says front-desk clerk Joe Taboada, “a lot of people come here.”
“Every year, man,” says a phone rep at Hollywood’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, who gave his name only as Robert. “Every year we get the storm surge.”
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It makes sense. Sturdy and generator-powered, nothing short of an apocalypse will make a casino turn away a customer. Says Robert: “We’d be open if the building tipped over.”
At the poker tables, the storm was mentioned only in passing, as is the case with any topic not concerning five cards or a bet. “I got off of work today and tomorrow, man,” said Luis Alfredo, a city employee who had milked a sizable rack of chips from his opponents by midnight. “I love the storm.”
After some immersion journalism, Riptide emerged with nothing left in his wallet but an Arby’s gift card to discover only a light drizzle and a wheezing squall. But the gamblers inside Miccosukee wouldn’t have noticed -- or much cared -- if a Wahlberg-esque perfect storm was blasting against the casino.