BRIGHTON INDIAN RESERVATION, FL. -- After an invitation by the Seminole Tribe of Florida's public relations firm to come to dinner and a country music concert last week at the tribe's Brighton Casino, I had to give some thought to just how this experience would be for a typical visitor.
I'm not even close to what the casino had in mind for a "regular" customer. I don't drink, gamble, or like places where you have to shout to converse with someone more than a few feet away.
But, my best guess is that those who love to gamble, don't mind very loud environments, and can afford to spend a few bucks for a couple of hours of gambling entertainment will like the Brighton Casino.
Joining me Friday night for dinner and a country music legend John Anderson concert was my partner Barbara, author and travel writer Bob Epstein (latest book Africa On A Pin And A Prayer) and wife Barbara, and our host from the casino's public relations firm Bitner Goodman, Chris Dirato and his gal friend.
The first obstacle most folks will encounter in a trek to the Brighton Casino is the out-in-nowhere location. The Seminole Tribe owns a pretty large parcel of land west of Okeechobee and north of Moore Haven, conveniently located next to nothing.
Well, to be fair there is Lake Okeechobee, just a dozen miles southeast, the "Bass Capital of the World" and a hot spot for fishermen. The Reservation has it's own convenience store and gas station, along with schools, nice rodeo grounds and craft centers.
The ride to Brighton from most anywhere is scenic though, driving alongside the Herbert Hoover dike on Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater lake in the U.S., and through miles of cattle ranch lands and sugar cane fields.
Our dinner passed quickly at the Josiah Restaurant And Lounge. (We were conveniently ushered ahead of a waiting line to our table.) I ordered a pretty ordinary Angus steak salad (at $15) from an extensive menu. As it turned out the meat included several pieces with gristle and clumps of fat in the standard lettuce, tomato eggs, cheese, and onions salad.
The small restaurant area is immediately next to a large gaming room with 300 slot machines. The casino itself can hold almost 500 people. The noisy environment was not a place for any real dinner conversation. Seated at the end of our table I could not hear any of the conversation a the opposite end of the medium sized table, try as I might to listen to Bob Epstein's telling of his travel adventures around the world.
The night's main attraction, a John Anderson standing room-only concert was held in what is normally the bingo hall. Anderson, a country music legend and the John Anderson Band performed to perfection. The six-member band with with drums, bass, guitar, steel, keyboards, and fiddle backed up Anderson's unique vocal abilities without a hitch.
I would have suggested the sound man could have mixed the instrument levels a bit more precisely, especially to show off the subtleties of the musicians a bit more, including the Anderson band drummer and the exceedingly talented fiddle player (who also did backup singing with the 5-string electric bass player, and doubling on mandolin, guitar, and banjo.)
But if you're worried about ear damage, you don't want to sit up front like our group did. The thunderous sounds from dual mountains of giant speakers literally left me temporarily slightly deaf after the 90 minutes of music.
Had the sound levels been turned down from ten to eight, the atmosphere and musical enjoyment would have been perfect.
If you like non-spot gambling, the 24-hour Brighton Casino will certainly be entertaining. They don't miss a trick in luring you there; lots of multi-thousand dollar drawings and car giveaways ( a Fiat 500 on March 29) just to mention a few customer draws.
The Brighton Casino has sister gaming and hotel operations in the Tampa area, Coconut Creek (with 2,400 slot machines), Immokalee (1,200 slot machines), and Hollywood, Fl. (1,000 slot machines.)
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