Casino ship may be in operation by end of year
Gambling is all about odds. So here are the odds of a casino ship making Port Aransas its home within the next few months: Better than 50-50, according to an official at the Port of Corpus Christi.
"There's interest out there," said Michael Perez, director of business development for the Port of Corpus Christi. "I think there's better than a 50-50 chance we'll get someone, I hope, by the end of the year."
Perez said he has been in contact with three casino ship operators interested in possibly docking a ship at the Port of Corpus Christi docks on Harbor Island. He said two of the ships are out of Florida, but he declined to further identify who he
had been talking to.
"I don't want to get the community excited until (a solid deal) happens," Perez said.
A new ship would replace the Texas Treasure, which left Port Aransas in May. At the time, a Texas Treasure spokesman said the ship was heading to dry-dock for routine repairs for about 30 days.
But the Texas Treasure never returned to Port Aransas. The casino's owner never publicly announced it was leaving Port Aransas for good, but indications are that it won't be back.
First, the Texas Treasure became involved in a legal dispute between the ship's owners and the owners of the casino business aboard the ship. Then, last month, the Texas Treasure held a liquidation sale in a vacant building on South Padre Island Drive in Corpus Christi. The sale included hundreds of pieces of the ship's furnishings. And John LaRue, executive director of the Port of Corpus Christi, said the port has tracked the ship to India.
It was not known why the ship was heading to India. Company officials have not returned repeated phone calls requesting comment.
The possibility of a new casino ship coming to Port Aransas could lift the spirits of a lot of merchants in town. The Texas Treasure represented one more reason for tourists to spend an extra day in Port Aransas.
The Texas Treasure was moving about 216,000 passengers each year, Perez said.
The three casino ship businesses Perez has talked to are carefully investigating the possibility of coming to Port Aransas.
"The economy is slow now, and a lot of these operators - they're doing their homework," Perez said. "They want to see passenger loads and history and so forth, and we've provided that. So far, the operators we've talked to seem to be fairly impressed with the numbers."
Two of the ships are in the neighborhood of 450 feet long - a bit longer than the Texas Treasure, Perez said. Bringing in one of those ships would mean more passengers, a smoother cruise for the customers and more income for Port Aransas businesses and the Port of Corpus Christi.
The Port was making about $1.5 million each year from the Texas Treasure by charging the casino ship docking fees and a bit for every passenger who came aboard the ship.