Docked and closed for business since 2008, the future of the Casino Rock Island riverboat could soon include new ownership and a repurposing as an excursion boat in New Orleans.
At daybreak on Friday, the former floating casino departed from its home for the past six years in Chillicothe, Illinois. The vessel is headed downriver to a drydock on the Wood River so that it can be inspected by both the Coast Guard and potential buyers.
Built in 1991 by D. James Jumer, the boat’s run in Quad-City waters ended when the land-based Jumer’s Hotel & Casino opened in 2008 on southwest Rock Island. Now there is a pending sales agreement between the New Orleans Steamboat Co., owned by the Dow family, which runs excursions on its Steamboat Natchez out of the French Corridor, and current owners, the Jumer family, said Matt Dow, the company’s assistant marine operations manager, according to the Quad-City Times report.
Dow said the deal is pending inspection by the Coast Guard and the company’s management. He said a new Certificate of Inspection must be approved by the Coast Guard as the previous one has expired, and that the inspection process will determine the necessary improvements to the boat. In 1973, Dow’s grandfather and father founded the excursion business and in 1975 built the Natchez. He said, “The Casino Rock Island is going to be quite a complement to the Steamboat Natchez,” as reported by the news agency.
Dow went on to say that the paddlewheel casino boat will need extensive restoration and remodeling due to much of its interior being removed along with the gaming machines. He said the boat could be operation in about a year’s time and that they hope to run it for daytime excursions, as well as evening dinner cruises, private parties, charters, and corporate events.