CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Walter Thomason

Gaming Guru

 

Casino Gambling in Florida? You Bet!

25 December 1999

Imagine that you are on vacation with your family. Your spouse is playing Bingo, your son is in the video game room, your daughter is on a "treasure hunt" supervised by youth counselors, and you are at the Blackjack table, deciding if you should double-down your ten against the dealer's upturned seven. The constant clamor of bells from the slot machines tells you that someone hit a jackpot, and the nearby craps table goes wild as the shooter makes his sixth pass. Where are you? In Florida, of course!

It's high time that visitors to Florida discover one of the state's best-kept secrets -- the rapid proliferation and easy accessibility of high-stakes casino gambling via cruise ships, gambling boats, Indian reservations, and the nearby Bahama Islands casinos.

Several years ago, Florida voters defeated a constitutional amendment proposal which would have allowed land-based and riverboat casinos throughout the state, but this did little to deter the growth and popularity of ships specifically designed to be floating casinos. Along the coastline from Panama City to Key West to Miami to Jacksonville, over two dozen such vessels depart daily on "cruises to nowhere", leaving Florida's territorial waters (three to twelve miles) to avoid gambling restrictions. Their casinos offer slots and most of the table games found in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, with similar rules and betting limits. Ships vary in size from small motor vessels which can accommodate 200-300 players to full-size cruise ships offering buffet and formal dining, cabins, floor shows, and space for 1200 passengers. Cruises sail both day and night, allowing four to six hours of casino time. Other ships on Florida's southeast coast travel to the Bahama Islands on one day visits or overnight stays with land accommodations provided. Fees for these services are moderate, and include meals and entertainment as well as the pleasures of cruising at sea.

The Bahamas, located 38 miles off the state's southeast coast, have many major casinos that attract customers via cruise ships and special charter flights from most of Florida's major airports. From southeast Florida, flights last 18 to 30 minutes, and occur once or twice daily. Rates start as low as $59.00, plus airport and departure fees, and include a meal, transfers, and discounts. Be sure to bring proof of citizenship (passport, voter's registration, or birth certificate) or you won't be admitted into the country!

In addition to casino ships and the Bahamas, four Indian reservations, located in Miami, Hollywood, Tampa, and Imokalee, offer high jackpot Bingo, video "pull tab" machines with wagering up to $20.00 per swipe, and live poker with a $10.00 per pot maximum. No admission is charged, but you must be 18 years old to enter the casino area.

Florida's largest selection of casino gambling is located on the southeast coast from West Palm Beach to Miami. Gaming ships such as SunCruz and SeaEscape depart daily from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Beach. SeaEscape accommodates about 1200 passengers, and offers buffet and gourmet dining, live bands and entertainment, cabins, and children's entertainment programs. Spacious casinos provide Vegas-style Blackjack, craps, Roulette, Caribbean Stud Poker, and hundreds of slots machines. SunCruz is a smaller vessel, but offers similar casino games.

For the "jet-setters", daily flights originate from West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, and quickly take you to the luxury resort casinos at Freeport/Lucaya and Nassau/Paradise Island. Contact the casinos directly for their junket rates and reservation information.

For those wanting brief gambling vacations from Fort Lauderdale to the Mississippi Gulf Coast (Biloxi/Gulfport), flights are scheduled on a regular basis at very reasonable rates.

The Seminole Indians recently added a large Poker Palace to their famous Mega-Bingo Hall in Hollywood. This seven-day-a-week facility provides $10.00 pot limit Seven Card Stud and Texas Hold'em to hundreds of players daily.

Practically every coastal city with a population base of 100,000 or more has at least one gambling ship available to local residents and tourists. I've played on many of these vessels and have never been skeptical of the integrity of the games.

These are only a few of the choices available to casino enthusiasts -- many other coastal cities have ship-board gaming, so check the local newspapers in the area you plan to visit. Florida is famous for hospitable and well-trained personnel, so don't be afraid to expect the best in services.

Both casino ships and Bahamas casinos have rating systems and "comp" programs, so ask to be rated if you wish discounts on current or future excursions.

The next time you visit the Sunshine State, give the ships, the reservations, and the Bahamas a try! Remember, there's nothing Mickey Mouse about casino gambling in Florida!

Walter Thomason
Walter Thomason is the best-selling author of Blackjack for the Clueless and the editor of The Experts’ Guide to Casino Games and The Ultimate Blackjack Book.

A long-time casino gaming enthusiast, he is a frequent contributor to
The New Chance and Circumstance, Midwest Gaming & Travel, and Heartland Casino News.

His new book is
21st Century Blackjack: A New Strategy for a New Millenium. He can be reached
at PO Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33355.

Books by Walter Thomason:

> More Books By Walter Thomason

Walter Thomason
Walter Thomason is the best-selling author of Blackjack for the Clueless and the editor of The Experts’ Guide to Casino Games and The Ultimate Blackjack Book.

A long-time casino gaming enthusiast, he is a frequent contributor to
The New Chance and Circumstance, Midwest Gaming & Travel, and Heartland Casino News.

His new book is
21st Century Blackjack: A New Strategy for a New Millenium. He can be reached
at PO Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33355.

Books by Walter Thomason:

> More Books By Walter Thomason