gambling circles, the terms riverboat and gambling boat are both
used interchangeably. When Mississippi passed legislation in 1990
to allow riverboat gambling, the floodgates were basically opened.
States all along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers now have gambling
cruises. These gambling boats aren't necessarily throwbacks to the
glorious and mythical days of vest-wearing cardsharps with derringers
in their sleeves; many offer enough space for 1,500 passengers and
very modern, luxurious surroundings. (Interestingly, Louisiana does
require their riverboats to look like genuine 19th century riverboats.)
first Mississippi casino opened up in 1992 and since then the state
has skyrocketed into third place among gambling destinations. One
of the poorest states in the USA is now entertaining over 65 million
patrons and obtaining gaming revenues of almost $2 billion per year.
Gambling boats were a major factor here too.
Major companies - Mirage resorts, Harrah's, Circus - have all opened
swanky new gambling boat casinos with spacious hotels. To put this
boom into perspective, consider this: in 1992, Tunica County in
Mississippi had 16 hotel rooms and today its over 6,000.
Each gambling boat may float by different rules, so always find
out the details before heading aboard. Some gambling boats charge
admission and some don't. Some actually cruise and some don't. Note
however, in Mississippi, by law, the gambling boats are not allowed
to cruise. Some put a time limit on how long you can play and some
A related area is that of Cruise Ships. Often called "cruises to
nowhere", these jaunts head out to unregulated international waters.
The cruise ship companies can apply whatever rules and payouts they
choose; they have a captive audience and no state or federal gaming
commission looking over their shoulders. That doesn't mean you can't
find good deals and favourable rules. Just check it out before you
decide to set sail.