Gambling on Cruise Ships

Casinos and ships go back a very long way. Gambling on cruise ships was a very popular activity back in the day when US laws prohibited all kinds of games of chance on land. The first gambling ships appeared in the late 1920s off Los Angeles Coast and offered cruisers craps, roulette, bingo and different card games.

Basically, any large vessel that housed a casino was considered a gambling ship. Often, these ships also provided delighted patrons other forms of entertainment, like theatre, music performances and more.

Casino operators proved to be very clever people as they managed to circumvent the strict laws governing land-based gambling in the US. Considering any ship is seen as an extension of the country under whose flag it sails, boats had to be at sea in order for the casino to operate. When the ship was docked, ship casinos had to close.

Gambling ships in the United States were basically anchored offshore in international waters, over the three nautical miles limit of territorial waters. Things became a little bit more complicated when territorial waters were redefined to 12 nautical miles.

In 1989, riverboat casinos became legal in Iowa, and a couple of years later, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Louisiana also legalized gambling on boats. Traditional casino games were allowed in most of these US states, so gambling aficionados could enjoy blackjack, roulette and slots.

Nowadays, many people who use to go on cruises consider casinos as an essential, integral part of the cruise experience, which led cruise lines to build ever bigger and ultra-modern onboard casinos that offer guests a true Las Vegas experience. From the glamorous atmosphere down to the Broadway shows and amazing cocktail service, passengers can have it all while cruising.

Moreover, governments now allow “cruises to nowhere,” which are specifically designed for those who just want to gamble and are not exactly interested in the cruising thing. This means that passengers are simply taken out offshore beyond the three-mile limit for only one night or more so that they can quench their gambling thirst.

The cruise ship casinos of today come in all shapes and sizes, but among the most glamorous we can mention the Norwegian Escape, a high stakes casino cruiser based in Florida that can accommodate no less than 4,266 passengers and takes them to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. The onboard casino has something for everyone, so both novices and seasoned gamblers will have the time of their life. It offers 318 slots machines and 28 gaming tables, which include poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, pi-gow, baccarat and more.

Besides all this, guests can also spend time in the VIP Room, enjoy delicious meals at one of the 15 onboard restaurants or enjoying the sun at the Vibe Beach Club.