Texas Casino Cruise Ship Runs Amok, “Captain’s Error” Blamed

Posted on: April 17, 2017, 02:40h. 

Last updated on: April 17, 2017, 02:41h.

A Texas casino cruise ship named “Jacks or Better” crashed during a weekend evening run, with the accident coming just a little more than a week after the party boat had its grand opening.

Texas casino cruise Jacks or Better
Gamblers who took a ride on a Texas casino cruise ship Saturday night received quite a scare. (Image: Jacks or Better Casino)

Docked in Galveston, Texas, the Jacks or Better Casino cruise ship had its grand opening on April 7, 2017. Eight days later, the vessel encountered its first nautical accident.

During Saturday night’s cruise, the boat struck a jetty in Galveston Bay while returning from its 6:30 pm charter. Passengers said the collision was loud and scared many on board.

“If you saw the movie ‘Titanic,’ that’s what it was sounded like,” one gambler toldKPRC2, Houston’s NBC affiliate. “I thought we hit another ship. The sound was incredible, just this loud, loud crashing, scraping sound of metal on metal.”

While passengers were startled, the ship itself suffered the only physical damage. The vessel received a deep scratch on its side from the accident, forcing the cancellation of its Sunday run.

Cruising for a Bruising

Land-based and commercial gambling is illegal in Texas, and ironically, so is poker, despite the wildly popular Texas Hold’em format. Gaming operators who wish to tap into the state’s gambling market must do so outside in international waters.

Once the boat is 9.1 miles off the coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, the Jacks or Better Casino gets cards in the air and the slots start spinning. Tickets cost about $15 per passenger, and cruises last roughly six hours.

In addition to slots and classic table games like blackjack, roulette, and craps, the casino also features an innovative poker game called Shootout Poker. Players compete concurrently against both the house and the others at the table. Once the river card is dealt, bets against the dealer end and wagering between the players begins.

The boat gives Texans a way to gamble without going to a Native American or pari-mutuel gaming establishment. But in addition to the ship striking a buoy, passengers have also complained about rather rough seas.

On the casino’s website, the cruise says it sails if seas are up to five feet. Jacks or Better offers free Dramamine to passengers, and those that get sick receive a $20 gaming credit and complimentary future boarding should they wish to test their sea sickness luck again.

A statement on the company’s Facebook page, posted mid-afternoon on Monday, said the following:

Our internal investigation revealed that JOB hit a marker, not a buoy. A combination of captain’s error and unusual circumstances resulted in a 100′ gash down the port side of the vessel. A cargo ship anchored off shore not far from the marker was disabled. It had all of its deck lights on, creating a bright blinding affect. This compelled the captain to deviate from his normal course. As a result he miscalculated the marker location and the strength of the current, resulting in a side swipe of the marker.The crew preformed their duties as trained and customers were calm and orderly. No injuries were reported.

Hot Streak

The Texas cruise accident is the latest in a recent string of bad luck for casinos. Last week, the Bellagio had to call 9-1-1 after a fire broke out on its roof. Firefighters were quickly able to extinguish the flames with minimal damage to the resort.

The fire was contained to the roof and didn’t extend into the retail shops below it. However, the Bellagio says the fire still caused $450,000 in damages.

Less than 24 hours later, fire crews responded to a blaze at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. An awning over the casino’s employee entrance had caught fire, but the flames were quickly put out.