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The ‘G’ Word: Gambling On Cruises


The subject nobody likes to talk about (or confess to) on cruise ships is gambling. Because of its addictive possibilities, because of its seamy stories of the past, because of its long odds…gambling is something that only others seem to do.

Okay, so we’re others.

We have gambled on cruise ships and lost. We have gambled on cruise ships and won. We have never been left with the impression that the “odds” of winning are any different than they are in land-based casinos — they’re never great — and yet there are people who insist the odds are different.

This week we read a Q-and-A answer in the Detroit Free Press, by Mark Pilarski. He seems to know more about gambling than we do, which is fine, but there’s a few things in his response to a reader’s question about slots on ships that we found…interesting and/or curious.

For example:

• “It is far more difficult to know who is setting and enforcing the laws at sea. There is an organization called the International Council of Cruise Lines that offers some regulatory control. If you have a dispute, you won't likely find an ICCL agent.”

While there are rules and regs for EVERYTHING on cruise ships, this is fair comment. Our experience is that the people who operate the casinos at sea are not casino people they’re ship people, so the way they do things is not exactly Las Vegas.

• “Cruise ships have no competition, just a confined audience. The casino knows you're a one-timer on a holiday and that your pockets are full of cash. It isn't looking for repeat business because you're probably never coming back. As a one-time player, you can plan on a bruising when cruising.”

Not true. All cruise lines want you to come back, if not to that ship, to another one ofd theirs and if you’re guaranteed to take a “bruising” you not only will avoid the casino on that ship, you won’t gamble on any of their ships.

• “Avoid playing slot machines…there are plenty of other activities to enjoy besides pulling handles.”

Partly true. There are plenty of other activities, but probably none which give you even a “chance” of helping to pay for your cruise…okay, maybe bingo, also gambling. However, rare is the cruise ship that has slot machines with handles.

And what do you think?

Today at portsandbows.com: Norwegian Escape — what's new

Holland America Veendam
7 nights
March 7, 2015
San Diego (return): Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta 
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

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