Casino boat now sailing from Galveston

The Jacks or Better 1 casino boat is docked Friday, April 14, 2017, at the Galveston Yacht Basin. The ship hit the marker at the tip of the Galveston South Jetty around 12 a.m. Sunday, April 16, 2017.

A Galveston-based casino boat canceled a planned Easter Sunday cruise after the ship hit a marker in the Galveston Ship Channel on Saturday evening.

The Jacks or Better, a casino boat that operates out of the Galveston Yacht Basin, struck the marker at the tip of the Galveston South Jetty around 12 a.m. Sunday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The marker is a navigational aid for ships entering and leaving the Galveston Ship Channel.

The collision put two holes into the ship, about 15 feet above the water line, according to the Coast Guard. The damage did not affect the integrity of the ship.

The cause of the collision is still under investigation, according to the Coast Guard.

On Sunday morning, the company canceled a planned cruise due to “mechanical issues.” Throughout the morning, passengers from the cruise posted photos showing a long gash on the ship’s hull.

In a prepared statement sent on Sunday afternoon, the boat’s operators said the boat “brushed” a buoy and suffered only minor cosmetic damage. It was the first accident the boat has been involved in, according to the company.

“All safety measures were followed and USCG mentioned that they were pleased how the incident was handled,” the company said. “The safety and well-being of the passengers and crew are of upmost importance to the casino.”

In the statement, the company blamed “blinding lights” from a disabled ship in the channel that obscured the casino ship captain’s view of the marker.

“A blind spot was created and it was too late to avoid a brush with the marker,” the company said.

There were no injuries or pollution reported because of the collision, according to the Coast Guard. The boat returned to the Galveston Yacht Basin. It was set to leave Galveston for repairs on Monday morning.

The casino boat launched its first cruise from Galveston earlier this month. It features two decks of games, including slot machines, craps and roulette. Gambling is illegal in Texas, so the boat takes people out to territorial waters, about 12 miles off the coast, so that they can gamble legally.

The boat previously operated out of Aransas Pass.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(2) comments

David Schuler

I like the idea of a casino ship but hope the GDN obtains a copy of the final Coast Guard report. There was no fog, the winds were not excessive, and CG regulations require a vessel of that size to have radar and navigational equipment that would - if monitored properly - tell the captain where he was in relationship to the channel and large lighted channel markers at all times. If they were relying primarily on visual navigation (as the 'blinding light' comment would indicate) that raises many serious questions about crew training, situational awareness and a host of other marine responsibilities that every vessel that operates in that very busy traffic lane must observe.
The owners of the last casino ship that docked here (years ago) proved two things - they didn't know how to run a ship and they didn't know how to run a casino. I wish this company all the best and hope this is not history repeating itself.

David Doe

What happened to modern technology?

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