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By Ian Macalester

Ian Macalester is a serious recreational red-chip blackjack player who has been playing for about two years using mostly the K-O count, and playing mostly in Las Vegas and on the Florida casino ships.


The casinos covered in this report include:

Sea Escape’s Island Adventure, Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale

Sterling Cruise Lines, Port Canaveral

SunCruz VI, Port of Palm Beach, Riviera Beach

Palm Beach Princess, Port of Palm Beach, Riviera Beach


You’d like to play a little blackjack today.

First you have to make a decision: Do you want to go to the casino from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or from 6:30 p.m. to midnight?

Then you better check the weather forecast.

Next, you have to call to make a reservation. Have a credit card handy; you might have to pay the admission charge - as much as $30 or more - in advance.

Be prepared to pay for parking when you get there. And to go through an airport-style security check. And to wait at least 45 minutes, with the tables covered, before you can start playing. And to spend the next six hours or so at the same casino, no matter what happens.

Clearly, you’re not in Vegas.

If you’re in Florida (or one of the handful of other states that both prohibit blackjack and have a shoreline), this is how you have to play -- on a boat or ship, just outside the state’s three-mile jurisdictional limit.

I started playing blackjack a couple of years ago on South Florida’s casino cruise ships -- specifically, the Palm Beach Princess and Sea Escape’s Island Adventure. I’ve also played on the SunCruz boat that started sailing last year from the Port of Palm Beach and on Sterling Cruise Line’s ship at Port Canaveral.

In the past year I’ve played more on land -- mostly in Las Vegas, but also in Missouri and Shreveport, La. In many ways, land- and sea-based blackjack is similar. In a few, they’re not. And there are differences among the casino boats and ships.

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