Florida Company Plans Online Gambling Cruises

4 August 2000
Gamblers will soon be able to play real-money computer games over the Internet while cruising in the Atlantic Ocean. SeaEscape Entertainment Inc., which operates a "cruise to nowhere" ship from Port Everglades to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida has announced plans to capitalize on its large customer base by launching an Internet casino.

The company will also use the Internet to bolster marketing for the cruises, which run five to six hours each 13 times a week. More than 370,000 passengers gambled on the boats during the past 12 months.

"We believe that the addition of Internet gaming to our product mix will add significant additional gross revenue to our previous projections of $30 million for the next fiscal year, with a much lower operating cost," explained Bruce Yasukochi, SeaEscape's executive vice president. Yasukochi says that the company's large clientele and established physical presence will give it a distinct advantages over competing sites, he added.

He also indicated that several licensing jurisdictions, as well as gaming software providers were under consideration. A SeaEscape site would probably launch within three to six months. Company officials weren’t unavailable for further comment.

SeaEscapes announcement could make things interesting in Florida. History has shown that the justice department in Florida takes a dim view of Internet gambling. Attorney General Bob Butterworth has consistently approached Net betting with a zero-tolerance policy. His most recent confrontation came in November 1999 when he warned various media outlets against accepting advertising for gambling websites. He also recently asked Visa and MasterCard to assist Florida's battle against online gaming and thoroughly outlined for the companies the state's law against online gambling. Further, Florida doesn't permit the collection of payment for gambling debts.

Butterworth wasn’t available for comment.