A newly opened day cruise gambling vessel suffered some minor cosmetic damage when on Saturday it crashed into a buoy marker on at a jetty in Galveston Bay where it docks, according to the US Coast Guard.
On Saturday at about 11:30pm, the gambling yacht Jacks or Better Casino, formerly the Aransas Queen Casino, sustained a 5-foot starboard gash and other minimal damage when, according to the company, it hit one of two buoys at the jetty near 715 North Holiday Drive in Galveston, Texas.
The casino wrote on its Facebook page that Saturday’s incident wasn’t the first time that particular buoy had been hit. This time, however, there were two buoys, and upon approaching the first one, the vessel’s co-captains, who together have more than 50 years of experience, said they were only able to see the second buoy, which was lined up with the first and about an eighth of a mile away. Bright lights used to help illuminate disabled vessels obscured the co-captains’ vision creating a blind spot preventing the brush with the buoy from being avoided in time.
In its statement, the company added, “All safety measures were followed and USCG mentioned that they were pleased how the incident was handled. The safety and well-being of the passengers and crew are of utmost importance to the casino. Rocky Herrin, JOB’s general manager, is in contact with the Port authorities to suggest a remedy so that this particular buoy won’t be hit again.”
While the damage was reportedly minimal, one passenger said the crash was terrifying. Nancy Wilson told Click2Houston news, “I thought we hit another ship. I mean the sound was incredible, just this loud, loud crashing, scraping sound of metal on metal.”
Responding to questions on its Facebook page on Sunday, Jacks or Better Casino General Manager Rocky Herrin said they hope repairs to the yacht will take a week or less, and, “Talking to USCG tomorrow to see if we can sail as is. Cosmetic only. 18’above water line.”
No one was reportedly injured on the yacht that arrived at the Galveston Yacht Basin this month and set sail for the first time on April 7.
While Las Vegas-type gambling isn’t allowed in the Lone Star State, state, once a ship reaches international waters, which happens approximately 9.1 miles or 45 minutes from shore, Texas gambling laws are of no consequence.
On March 6 this year, the former Aransas Queen Casino began its relocation from Aransas Pass, Texas, where it made its maiden voyage in May 2015, to its current home in Galveston. The decision to leave was due to high winds and sea conditions and the resulting need for frequent repair, which subsequently caused a loss of business. It was given its new name, Jacks or Better Casino, which is actually what its name was when it sailed out of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and then Florida, prior to Aransas Pass. Now under new management, the 155-foot gambling vessel sails twice a day Wednesday through Saturday and once on Sunday afternoons, and features a sportsbook, 180 slots, and a variety of table games.
Jacks or Better has separate smoking and non-smoking decks and hold up to 350 passengers but its average cruise is about 100, with the exception of weekends.