Casino Boat to Open Friday - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/18/04

Casino Boat to Open Friday

They still aren't sailing, or gambling, but the operators of the Millionaire's Casino boat are ready for company. This Friday, the long-awaited and much-delayed gambling cruise opens its doors to customers.

The casino boat needed a certificate of cooperation from the Coast Guard. They finally have it. They can't gamble yet, but they will bring people on board by the end of the week to get a taste of the casino.

Millionaire's Casino co-manager Jim Monaghan says keeping his multimillion-dollar venture afloat has been a crap shoot. "If I had a nickel every time someone said, 'When are you going to open?' I wouldn't have to open," he told us.

Monaghan finally has a solid answer. After eight months of delays, deportations, and doubts, US Coast Guard inspectors say the casino boat is A-okay. "I think everyone is happy to get it over with," said Monaghan.

Monaghan admits, he and his business partner wondered if their casino boat cruise was one big busted deal. They are several million dollars overbudget, and workers they hired and trained were forced to find new jobs during delays. Now Monaghan says he's willing to bet the boat will take its maiden voyage in the next three weeks.

"If they wanted to operate, they should have been prepared," said US Coast Guard LTC Larry Green. He says a lack of paperwork and safety plans held up the casino cruise. The only thing left now is for Monaghan to hire the rest of his crew  and get them trained on safety drills.

"We told them, as soon as they get people hired, give us a call for an inspection," Green said.

Until then, the boat will remain docked. But Monaghan insists the games will soon begin. "We will be open on Friday. Our start date is Friday."

This Friday, the Millionaire's Casino will open up its bottom and top floors, which feature redemption games, a night club, restaurant and sports bar.

They have 75 people to hire and get up to speed on safety drills. Once they are trained, Monaghan plans on taking folks three miles off the coast three weeks from now for the long-awaited maiden cruise, where the real gambling begins.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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