For those of you who are reading this article because you’ve never heard the term “riverboat casino” until now, allow us to offer an explanation:
A riverboat casino is a type of gaming venue that is based aboard a riverboat instead of inside the traditional brick-and-mortar venues to which most of us are accustomed. Aside from their locations, riverboat casinos are exactly the same as their ordinary land-based counterparts. They feature slots, table games and other games of chance on which players can wager for the chance to win cash and other prizes.
But you won’t find a riverboat casino aboard just any kind of water-going vessel. A riverboat is a boat designed specifically to navigate rivers, lakes and canals. They are used to transport both people and goods. A paddlewheel riverboat ferry is usually the kind of watercraft on which you’ll find a riverboat casino.
The Origins of the Riverboat Casino
Although riverboats have been used all over the world, their most famous home undoubtedly lies in the midwestern and central southern regions of the United States, in which can be found the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri Rivers.
Whilst, riverboats were already in use in the early 1800s, the riverboat casino only emerged a century later, once the railroad system had rendered them all but obsolete as cargo vessels. The birth of the riverboat casino was a significant event in the history of American gaming as it enabled the practice to take place in states where it was illegal on land.
At the time, gambling was permitted aboard riverboat casino venues, as long as they were capable of actually sailing and most states required each riverboat casino to leave the dock a certain number of times each year.
Changes to Riverboat Casino Legislation
By the end of the Twentieth Century, however, many states had voted to allow riverboat casino activity, even when the vessels were docked. As a result, there is now many a riverboat casino on the Mississippi Delta and elsewhere that hasn’t sailed in decades.
Moreover, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed most of the Gulf Coast riverboat casino ships in 2005, a number of US states altered their legislation to allow these venues to set up shot on land, as long as it was within a set distance from a navigable waterway.
Resorts Casino Tunica, for example is a riverboat casino in Mississippi that is actually built on land.
The Death of the Riverboat Casino?
However, despite legislation becoming even more favourable for riverboat casino owners, the global economic recession hit hard at the entertainment industry – and casinos, in particular – as people simply could no longer afford to spend money on leisure activities.
Moreover, even the improved legislation could not resurrect those casinos worst affected by the havoc that Katrina left in her wake. Here are just some of the riverboat casino venues that eventually went under:
- Flamingo Casino, New Orleans
- Harrah’s Lake Charles, Louisiana
- River City Casino, New Orleans
- Showboat Star Casino, New Orleans
Riverboat Casino Venues that Weathered the Storm
Fortunately, the majority of riverboat casino destinations survived Katrina and, after a time, returned to sail again. Here are some of the riverboat casinos that are still open for business:
- Ameristar, Lake Michigan
- Golden Nugget Lake Charles
- L’Auberge Casino Resort, Lake Charles
- L’Auberge Casino, Baton Rouge
- Sam’s Town, Shreveport
- Treasure Chest Casino, Louisiana