Gambling ship bound for India
The Texas Treasure hasn't announced anything yet, but more and more signs are indicating the casino gambling ship has left Port Aransas forever.
One sign: The Port of Corpus Christi is tracking the ship's movements and has learned that the vessel is heading to India, said John LaRue, executive director of the port.
Another sign: Thousands of pieces of Texas Treasure property are being sold. The Aug. 7 edition of American Classifieds, a Thrifty Nickel publication, includes an ad for a "Texas Treasure Liquidation Sale" Aug. 8-16 on South Padre Island Drive in Corpus Christi, to include cards, dice, roulette wheels, computers, furniture, X-ray machines, an entire gift shop, safes, ATM machines, a food buffet line and thousands of bar glasses, according to the ad.
When the Texas Treasure steamed away from its Harbor Island dock in May, a spokesman said the ship was going into dry-dock for repairs that would take about 30 days. However, the vessel never returned, and the spokesman - Patrick Beam, an attorney for the Texas Treasure - has not returned repeated phone messages left with his office and e-mails since then.
The Texas Treasure's Web site says only this: "We are currently out of service for repairs. Please check back soon." The site's message hasn't changed since May.
The ship's owners and operators have become embroiled in a legal tangle. According to published reports, court documents show that the ship's operator turned the vessel over to its owners and that the vessel at that point had damaged backup generators. The ship's operators went to federal court to keep the owners from claiming funds on reserve in case of damage to the ship. The status of that legal action could not be determined.
Asked if the Texas Treasure will come back to Port Aransas, LaRue said, "I don't believe that's going to happen. They were in the Bahamas, and we've been tracking them, and it looks now like they've left the Bahamas and are heading to India, and that's not a good sign. So, I'd be surprised if they came back."
LaRue said he didn't know why the ship was going to India or how long it might be there. He said the Port is in contact with Texas Treasure officials locally but that the officials have not informed the Port about what plans the casino enterprise might have.
Pessimistic that the Texas Treasure will return, the port has contacted other casino operators to take the vessel's place at the Harbor Island facility across the Corpus Christi Ship Channel from Port Aransas, LaRue said. Some have expressed interest, but "I can't tell you there is anything imminent," he said.
LaRue said he doesn't expect to see a new casino ship within the next 30 days. But, he said, "there's a reasonable chance that within the next six months, we could have something."
Total economic impact of the Texas Treasure on Port Aransas is difficult to determine, but if the Family Center IGA's past ticket sales are any indication, the impact was not insignificant.
The IGA sold 4,000 to 5,000 tickets to the casino gambling ship in 2007, according to an estimate provided by Mike Hall, co-owner and store director.
The IGA has been left with hundreds of tickets it bought outright from the Texas Treasure and now cannot sell now that the vessel has departed, Hall said.
"We were very disappointed to see them leave for several reasons," Hall said. "I really believe (the ship) was an asset to the community and the loss of an opportunity that might keep a tourist in town an extra day."