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New Florida Casino Ships to be Added

27 January 2005

FLORIDA – As reported by the Tampa Tribune: "Two new casino ships are expected to drop anchor within a few weeks, creating more competition in Pinellas County's growing offshore gaming business.

"One new entry will be the SunCruz VII, which is expected to start sailing sometime next month from 150th Street in Madeira Beach. The other will be the Mardi Gras Queens Casino, which is scheduled to begin operating Feb. 6 out of Tarpon Springs.

"Both ships have less than half the capacity of the Ocean Jewel, which can hold more than 1,000 people. The Ocean Jewel, which sails daily Wednesday through Sunday from St. Petersburg, began offering offshore gambling last fall.

"… 'The market will determine who succeeds,'' said Howard Steffes, chief executive officer of Titan Cruise Lines, owners of the Ocean Jewel. He said business is exceeding expectations and that the Ocean Jewel will be one of the winners.

"…SunCruz Casinos, which runs casino ships in other parts of Florida and South Carolina, had operated a gaming ship out of John's Pass until October 2003. It suspended the operations because of a bankruptcy filing…"

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