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Best of John Marchel

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Gambling on the Water

19 April 2020

If gambling on land isn’t enough for you, there are plenty of cruise ships and riverboats that also offer casino gambling.

At last count, there are a little over 150 cruise ships around the world that have casinos available. In Europe, you wouldn’t find casinos on riverboats, only the cruise ships. That is different from the U.S. In 1991 Iowa, launched the first modern riverboat that offered gambling in lakes and rivers in the U.S. This opened up the idea of gambling in other states. By the late 1990s, six states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri) had 83 riverboats operating mostly in the Midwest and the Gulf coast.

Some cruise ships have limited tables and machines, some have plenty of equipment to handle the number of passengers that, though experience, would visit the casino.

They also have limited betting amounts. The cruise ship industry (not the cruises-to-nowhere or the riverboats) uses casino gaming as an added amenity for their customers and are not designed as the primarily reason for a cruise.

Although shipboard casinos are similar to land-based ones, there are differences. In Las Vegas or Atlantic City, the hotels, restaurants, shops are all there to service the casino customer. On cruise ships just the opposite is true. The casinos on cruise ships are considered an added amenity for customers rather than the main attraction.

On the other hand, the so-called “cruises-to-nowhere” ships, whose primary purpose is gambling, offers little else except a couple of hours sailing, a little food, maybe a buffet and lots of gambling. These boats simply go out and cruise around for six hours or so while their patron gamble, then return to port.

It is quite different on cruise ships.

The first thing you will notice is the casino hours of operation. They will vary somewhat but while at sea they usually open around noon and continue to operate into the early morning. While in port, almost all countries require ship board casinos to be closed. (They don’t want the cruise ship casino being in competition with local casinos).

The games and rules are similar to those found on land-based casinos. Blackjack, craps, Caribbean stud poker, American roulette, video poker and slots are the standard games found on most cruise ships. Poker is popular with many players and sometimes you can even find a cruise that offers a large poker tournament program. Remembering that ship casinos are different then land-based ones, cruise lines don’t want you to experience big losses while on a cruise; therefore, they do employ some restrictions. Betting limits ranging from $3 to $300 are common on most ships. Slots with denominations ranging from five cents to $5 can be found on most ships.


BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW

• Casinos on cruise ships are treated as only one small part of cruising amenities and not as an end to itself like land-based or cruise-to-nowhere casinos.

• Disney Cruise Line, doesn’t have a casino on any of its four cruise ships. Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America also does not have a casino. Most expedition ships and riverboats outside the U.S. do not have casinos.

• On cruise ships, many times you won’t find the good 9/6 Jack or Better video poker machines, instead you will find 6/5 machines, meaning they only offer a 94.9% payback instead 99.5 % machines.

• For blackjack, you’ll usually find tables that pay 6-to-5 on blackjack instead of the normal 3-to-2. Sometimes you play a higher-limit table then you might still find 3-to-2 payouts.

• There are loyalty programs on most cruise ships, just like on land. You’ll earn points for your play that can be redeemed for things like drinks, discounts off your cruise tab and even pay for future cruises.

• Most casinos give free drinks while you gamble, but that’s not always the case on a cruise. If you achieve a high enough status you can get free beverages, but usually you will be paying out of pocket for drinks in the casino.

• Today, U.S. gambling has become a $41.7 billion a year business.

• Treat your gambling funds as part of the trip’s expenses, no different from food, drinks, dining, tours and shopping. Don’t blow it all on one night in the casino.
Recent Articles
Best of John Marchel
John Marchel
John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine.

Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

John Marchel Websites:

johnmarchelgambling.com

Books by John Marchel:

KISS Guide to Gambling

> More Books By John Marchel

John Marchel
John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine.

Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

John Marchel Websites:

johnmarchelgambling.com

Books by John Marchel:

101 Casino Gambling Tips: Affordable Strategies & Techniques for Maximizing Profits & Reducing Loses

> More Books By John Marchel