How to find the best river boat casino

The river boat casinos of the past are quite different from those of today. The main aim of these casinos was to avoid taxes. Casinos were meant to be kept a secret and for this reason, they were restricted to the waterways. This also spared people the nuisance of having a casino in their neighborhood. The casinos were made as replicas of the paddlewheel steam riverboats to make them more appealing to the majority of gamblers. In the modern society, riverboat casinos are docked vessels that can actually navigate but are not required to by law.

Brief history of river boat casinos

Brief history of river boat casinos

The interior of a contemporary riverboat resembles the modern Las Vegas casinos more than it does the river boats of the past. These vessels dock next to 5-star hotels and have exquisite resort amenities, entertainment complexes, and lounges that rival any gaming destination across the continent. When they were initiated, the casinos were viewed as necessary evils in the communities where they were legalized. Over time, the people grew to embrace them because they created jobs and rejuvenated the economies where they were located. These casinos largely donated to the local charities and this made them very popular to the general public. For people that enjoyed the comfort of playing in casinos, riverboats became the perfect escapes that offered great deals to the people of the community.

The industry came into existence in 1989 when the law makers permitted sailing vessels to have casinos on board. The first vessels that had casinos on them were the Lady Emerald and Diamond Lady, which sailed the Mississippi River in Iowa. The lawmakers limited players to a maximum of $5 per bet and a maximum loss of $200 per head on each cruise. This meant that when a player lost $200, he was prohibited from betting for the remainder of the cruise. Lawmakers also ruled that the boats were only supposed to cruise during the warm months.

Due to Iowa’s regulations, Illinois launched its own market of the riverboats in 1991 that were less restrictive with no caps on the loss. In 1992, the Lady Emerald and Diamond Lady moved to the Gulf Coast and they became the first to open in Biloxi, Mississippi. In Mississippi, individuals were allowed to operate without restrictions and no requirement to cruise. Since then, these vessels became permanently docked and were essentially land based casinos that were floating in the water. By 1993, the riverboat casinos were very popular and had exploded into Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Louisiana.

Changes in the industry

Harrahs casino

Over the past few years, there has been an evolution in the riverboat casinos. Most of the vessels are undergoing complete transformation to ensure that they are competitive with land-based casinos worldwide. Some vessels have cost a fortune to renovate such as the Horseshoe Hammond, which cost around $485 million, indicating the evolution of this industry. Riverboats have become destinations rivaling Las Vegas and Atlantic City in their entertainment and amenities like seven-star lounges and celebrity chef restaurants.

The Best Casinos

Most of the regions are blessed with riverboat casinos that are world class offering the best quality services to their clients. We will look at the different regions and the best that they have to offer in terms of the riverboat casinos.


This is the place that is responsible for the introduction of the casinos. Most of the vessels in the market remain as they were in the pioneer years. But they can now be docked without the limitations that were initially implemented. However, there are two standout candidates in this region that are in Council Bluffs, namely the Ameristar and Harrah’s.

1. Ameristar Council Bluffs

The riverboat offers around 40,000 square feet of casino space that is on three different levels. The casino has 31 table games and 1,651 slots. On the shore side, there are a number of great restaurants such as the Waterfront Grille that offer high quality steaks. There is a hotel with 160 rooms, eight luxury suites, river views and 32 whirlpool rooms. There are also two lounge entertainment bars, as well as headliners that are found at the Amerisports Bar.

2. Harrah’s Council Bluffs

The vessel has three different levels with hotels as well as restaurants. The casino has over 1,000 slots and 35 table games that are found across the three levels. The vessel offers the added benefit of having a reward for the player that has the highest number of points. There is a 240-room hotel adjacent to it and restaurants such as the Aces Diner and the 360 Steakhouse as well as the Stir nightclub.


The popularity of the Illinois riverboat casinos stems from their proximity to Chicago. The market is made up of smaller casinos with the exception of a few larger ones. The larger casinos are the Harrah’s Joliet and Grand Victoria.

1. Harrah’s Joliet

This vessel is usually on a barge on the Des Plaines River. The casino is on a single level and is similar to the casinos in Vegas. There are a number of facilities that are adjacent to the vessel such as the 11-story luxury hotel and the Pavilion lounge. The casino offers the best video poker in Chicago along with the Stage 151 concert venue.

2. Grand Victoria

The Grand Victoria looks very traditional from the outside but has a very stylish interior. The casino is in a single level with 30,000 square feet of space and a Las Vegas aesthetic. The casino has the best rules and offers great cash back options as well as competitions. Its dealers and hosts are believed to be the best in the business. Adjacent to the casino is Buckingham’s, which is renowned for its tasty steak.


There are a number of casinos in Indiana that offer great experiences to their clients. There are two distinct markets in this region, offering diversity in terms of vessels to choose from.

1. Resorts East Chicago

This vessel is shaped like a yacht and is considered by many as the best casino in the region. The casino has a gaming space of 53,000 square feet. Resorts East Chicago is highly rated for its hotel casinos, as well as the suites and rooms located in the adjacent 286-room hotel.

2. Caesars Indiana

The interior of this riverboat property resembles a Las Vegas-caliber casino. The casino is attached to a beautiful hotel and has a lobby with a Roman theme. Caesars Indiana is the largest riverboat casino with a gaming space of 90,000 square feet. It has a variety of table games that are top-notch, a poker room, a wide selection of slots as well as video poker.

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A Massachusetts native, blogger Angeline Everett grew up in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and earned a degree in casino management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. After graduating, Angeline moved to Atlantic City where she joined the young team at the Borgata Casino as a compliance representative, while blogging on the side. After a few years in the back office, Angeline moved to the floor to work first at a casual poker dealer and later casual poker floor supervisor. Fascinated with games of chance since she was a child, Angeline currently divides her time between blogging and work on her first book.