Why Are Casinos on Water?

Exploring the Wonder: Why Are Casinos on Water? 

A common question is why casinos are built on the water or Why are Casinos on water? The truth is that casino gambling in the United States has a complicated history that seeks to balance morals and profits.

Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Lake Charles, and a slew of casinos on Native American tribal lands are the epicentres of gambling in the United States. There are also several riverboat casinos on the nation’s waterways, which first appeared in the early 1990s. 

So, why are casinos on water? Casinos are located on the water in several states to limit their geographical and social impact while providing revenue to the state.

To sway public opinion, states along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast, for example, chose water-based initiatives over land-based ones.

Well, if you are also conscious of the particular questionWhy are Casinos on water? You can scroll down to know the truth about it.

This blog will help you learn various facts about the reason behind the question of why are casinos on water?

The history of casinos on riverboats is rooted in local laws. When it became clear that Nevada’s casinos and those based on Native American land were profitable, other states wanted in on the action.

As a result, riverboat gambling evolved into a balanced solution to the conflict between social policy and money. 

Why Are Casinos on Water?

To know from scratch the truth of  Why are Casinos on water? You may primarily know about the history, and after that, you can learn about the absolute truth of the water in the casinos.

Because there wasn’t much else to do on the early steamboats, gambling was quickly allowed on board. 

Passengers entertained themselves by playing cards. It was unavoidable that money would be spent on these riverboat cruises.

Back in the 1800s, gambling on Mississippi riverboats became popular. Although it was not officially sanctioned by law enforcement, it set a precedent for the concept.

Different Popular Water Casinos  

Lowa was the first state to legalise riverboat gambling in the early 1990s, and Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, and Louisiana quickly followed suit. Betting on boats was created at the time to limit the economic and geographical scope of gambling.

The goal was to generate a consistent income stream without increasing crime or encouraging illegal behaviour. 

Early riverboat casinos were highly restrictive, allowing gambling only to occur during a short cruise – typically a couple of hours. 

Gambling was permitted only after the boat had left the dock and was sailing. Normally, gambling could not begin until three miles from the shore.


The Bayou State was one of the most critical states for riverboat gambling. It’s no surprise, then, that Louisiana now has legal riverboat casinos. 

Politicians legalised these venues under the banner that “a historic riverboat industry is important to the [state’s] economy.” Louisiana lawmakers see these casinos as critical to the state’s tourism industry. 

There are also tribal and commercial casinos in Louisiana. However, the majority of its gaming venues are riverboats. 

The Bayou State has an odd requirement that riverboat casinos be paddle-powered. However, a 2018 amendment rendered this rule obsolete. 

Riverboat casinos can now move up to 1,200 feet onshore, thanks to the amendment. By moving their operations inland, these casinos can effectively become land-based venues.


The Indiana Riverboat Casino Act of 1993 legalised water-based gambling in Indiana. Riverboat casinos are permitted on all significant state waterways. 

Indiana, like Illinois, initially required the boats to set sail. The Riverboat Casino Act, on the other hand, was amended in 1999 to allow for docked gaming establishments. 

Indiana Riverboat casinos can provide a full range of games, from blackjack to slots. The majority of them run on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. However, there are a few casinos on inner-state rivers as well.

Laws attempted to keep these gambling cruises comparable to the touring journeys on the waterways. As a result, a riverboat casino could only see 100 times per year in Iowa at the time. 

States also limit how much can be gambled during each cruise to avoid social decomposition. It accomplished this by imposing modest loss limits on its customers. It was usually set to a value between $200 and $500. 

The idea was that limiting the amount of money that could be wagered would keep profits small enough that the mob, which controlled Las Vegas at the time, would not infiltrate these smaller gambling establishments. 

However, as competition became more intense and the popularity and acceptance of all the states, the rules were relaxed by several states and areas.

The native American Landmark Case

Following a Supreme Court ruling that allowed casinos on Native American tribal lands in the early 1990s, there was an explosion of legalised gambling. As a result, several states sought to open casinos while reducing organised crime and profiting from legalised gambling. 

Native Americans and their pursuit of legalised gambling on their land owe a lot to the current gambling infrastructure in the United States. This was made possible because Native American land is sovereign and thus not subject to the laws of the United States. 

However, being sovereign does not imply that anything is permitted on Native American land. If actions in the area cause harm to the American people, US federal laws apply.

Gambling on Native American land was legalised in the 1980s. During the Reagan administration, tribes with reservations lost most of their pre-existing Federal aid. A few Californian tribes that operated bingo parlours on their land were the exception to this trend. 

California, which outlawed gambling, sought to end it because it did not want its citizen’s gambling. While some wealthy people bet big, the majority of gamblers are poor or have become impoverished as a result of their gambling habits.

California wanted to prevent these bingo parlours from harming their economy by widening the income disparity between rich and poor.

To fight back against the state, Arthur James Welmas, the Cabazon tribe’s leader, took the case to the Supreme Court. He won the ruling in 1987, which prompted the creation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988. 

This law meant that Native Americans could use their land for a casino if the state allowed gambling, including the lottery. It also empowered the federal government to oversee the gaming industry on these lands. The ruling’s goal was to keep organised crime from infiltrating these casinos.

The majority of casinos on boats today 

Casino Riverboats grew in popularity, as did the competition. Gambling restrictions were relaxed, and cruise lengths were increased. Quickly. Coastguards became frustrated as casino evening cruises clogged the waterways. 

Concurrently, casino owners were looking for a way to allow gambling on their boats for more extended periods. Similarly, casino patrons disliked the cruise aspect of their casinos. They refused to leave the dock for an ample time. 

As a result, riverboats began to be moored on the river’s edge, giving rise to the term “boats in moats.” 

Most water-based casinos no longer move. Some are now stationary structures that float on water blocks but are not intended to float.


Riverboat casinos were legalised in the Show Me State in 1992 but with strict restrictions. To begin with, the boats could only run two-hour cruises. They needed to return to shore at this point and stop offering to game until the next trip. 

Players could only lose up to $500 per cruise. They also had to pay for alcohol because it could not be given out as a freebie. 

Missouri lawmakers eased the restrictions after repealing the two-hour cruise rule in 1996. They had removed the $500 loss limit by 2008. 

Missouri now has one of the most profitable gaming industries in the country as a result of the repeal of these restrictive laws.

Is the land-based Casino the same as the water-based Casino?

In terms of location, water-bound casinos are distinct from their land-based counterparts. These venues are typically fashioned into riverboats, as discussed throughout this post. 

Riverboat casinos, on the other hand, do not usually move down waterways. Instead, the majority of the ships remained docked at specific locations. 

Walking up to a riverboat casino feels different from walking to a land-based casino. You might feel transported back to the 1800s when riverboat gambling was popular. 

Aside from this impression, water-based gaming is similar to that found in racinos, commercial casinos, or tribal casinos. The games, which include blackjack, craps, roulette, and slots, are essentially the same.

Last Thoughts: 

As a workaround to local opposition to legalised gambling, many casinos exist on waterways in the United States. It’s a practice that began in the early 1990s when the Supreme Court permitted gambling establishments on Native American lands in states that allowed any form of gambling, including the lottery.

Riverboat casinos were a reasonable way to generate income without causing too much social decline. Hope the query around why are casinos on water? is resolved now.

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