After anticipation that built from the moment the former Jacks or Better casino cruise ship docked at Tarpon Bay Marina on January 6th, the newly outfitted Aransas Queen received final Coast Guard approval and made her maiden voyage into international waters out of Aransas Pass, Texas today at 11am.
The 155 foot casino cruiser has capacity for 300 gamblers and at press time all but 11 tickets had been sold for the second cruise on Wednesday. For at least the first week the ship will be setting out just once per day, morning or evening – with two voyages per day, seven days a week planned for the near future.
Internet message boards and forums have been alight with questions about the new casino since the venue was announced in January. Texans don’t have many options for gambling with a single Native casino in the state and long road trips to outlying casinos in nearby states for most Texans. The last cruise ship operating out of Port Aransas was the Texas Treasure Casino Cruise, and that casino last sailed in 2008.
The Aransas Queen offers 205 state-of-the-art slots and video poker machines along with 12 gaming tables including blackjack, roulette, and craps. The first deck is the travel deck with a bar. Gaming occurs on the second deck along with a buffet. The third level is the Lounge Deck and also has a bar and outside dining. An international virtual sports book is also on board.
Texas gambling laws are of no consequence once the ship reaches international waters, about 45 minutes from shore.