The gamble on Jai Alai and small stakes poker is already paying off for the people of Hamilton County, Florida.
Once named Florida's poorest county, Hamilton is now enjoying a growing economy and new jobs.
The new Hamilton Downs Jai Alai fronton is also serving as a major economic engine for Hamilton County.
Jai Alai and poker games have been taking place for only a few months, but the region is already feeling the boost of added tourism and economic development.
Nancy Oliver, Hamilton County Economic Developer, says, "I'd say there's been unprecedented growth here in Hamilton County and certainly more interest now that the Jai Alai fronton has taken place and we're looking at a lot more development."
The experts say this gaming center is proving to be a catalyst for growth in a variety of industries.
Keith Hitson, a real estate executive, says, "We've seen a tremendous interest from people outside the area, especially south Florida, looking at Hamilton County for possible investments. A lot of it has to do with the Jai Alai and poker room facility."
In the coming year, locals will focus on preparing the way for those businesses to relocate.
Nancy Oliver adds "We are, as a county, working toward putting together a new industrial park and also putting water, and sewer service out to the interstate areas."
And thanks to a strong 2005, folks here remain hopeful that 2006 will continue a trend of new investments, and even more importantly, new jobs.
Real estate experts say right now commercial properties are hot, but they expect residential spaces to really increase in value as more people move into Hamilton County in 2006.