Cruise Ship Casinos: Gambling on the High Seas Part 2

That’s basically it for any mention of gambling controls and regulations. If you visit any cruise line casino, you will most likely notice the flexible atmosphere. Maximum bets? Speak to the pit boss, and you will most likely work something out. The only certainty is that gambling won’t take place until the ship has cleared the boundary into international waters, particularly aboard one of the ominous sounding “cruises to nowhere”. These came about in states and countries in which gambling is illegal. The ship sets out with no particular destination other than “international waters”. Once this point is reached, the shutters open and the wheel starts spinning.

Payouts are the amount of money that casinos return to the customer in the form of winnings, and they are a huge concern to gamblers. All land-based casinos in the US are tightly controlled to ensure that slot machines are paying out fairly. The cruise ship casinos are not subject to the same scrutiny, and therefore there is no way to be sure of the payout rates. Many believe that the cruise ships do not make the effort to promote product loyalty in the hopes of getting return customers, and in stead focus on extracting as much money as possible from each patron once he/she boards the ship. Of course these cruise ships are business operations in the service industry and do themselves no favors by gouging their customers, but it does appear that the casinos enjoy an even larger house edge than normal.

The player’s clubs aboard the cruises are also an indication of this business approach. In order to establish credit lines and receive other perks such as complimentary drinks, free gifts, discounts on other services, and monetary rebates off future cruises, the player must demonstrate he is willing to spend a lot of money in the casino. For example, one cruise line’s requirements for entry to their player’s club stipulate the customer must gamble at least two hours a day and place bets of no less than $25! The house edge which all casinos enjoy clearly makes this type of gambling beneficial to the dealer.

So what, if any, are the benefits of a gambling holiday aboard a cruise liner? I suppose the glitz of it all is what attracts a large number of people. If you are looking for the best payouts, a strictly controlled gambling environment designed to protect the consumer and ensure fair conditions, common sense points towards sticking to the established land-based casinos that do everything they can to keep you happy and better yet, likely to return. The cruise ships seem to be targeting a “one-off” type customer who, once caught up in the elation of being on holiday aboard a rather glamorous vessel, are much more likely to throw their money around a bit. And if splurging is your game, then ships ahoy, but I know where I`ll be.