List of Four Nations that Permit Casino Ship Gambling

Gambling is prohibited in some countries and states. However, the need for some of these countries and states to cater to the needs of their gambling populations have pushed them to seek alternative avenues to allow for gambling without breaking the law. One of these alternatives is to allow people to play free pokies or gamble onboard cruise ships, and there are several nations that allow casinos to operate in cruise ships. Four of these countries are listed below, and the scope and legality of their cruise ship gambling legislation and operations are explored.

United States

In the United States, cruise ship gambling was legalized in Iowa in 1989, thus making it the first state to allow gambling in cruise ships. Originally, the legislation was based on laws that governed riverside gaming parlors, including the 3-mile limit. The 3-mile limit allowed riverboat casinos to start gambling only after the riverboat was 3 miles away from the shorelines of the state. However, authorities quickly recognized that directly applying rules developed for riverboat casinos to cruise ships created a plethora of problems, chief among them being vague restrictions that thinned the revenue stream derived from taxing cruise ship casinos. For this reason, the legislation guiding cruise ship gambling was updated and ratified by the state authorities. The expanded scope of the legislation allowed cruise ship casinos, at the minimum, to engage in traditional casino games including online blackjack, roulette, and slots.

Later, five more states adopted legislation that permitted casino ship gambling. These states are Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, and Indiana. Apart from the traditional casino games, the jurisdictions in these states allow cruise ship casinos to hold other types of gambling games. Some of these states also permit cruises to nowhere trip, which means that cruise ship casinos can travel offshore beyond the 3-mile limit and stay stationary for a night or an entire weekend, thus allowing their passengers to gamble for a longer period of time. Initially, the 3-mile limit clause also imposed an onboard time limit for every gambling excursion; and the cruise to nowhere clause was designed to allow cruise ship casinos to circumvent this onboard time limit.

The aforementioned legislation has allowed cruise lines to build large and elaborate onboard casinos, which have added a unique element of cruise experience for their passengers. This means that the casino is not the central feature of the ship, but that it is one of the options that passengers can choose from the wide array of services offered by the cruise ships. At present, onboard casinos have competed favorably against other shipboard activities.

Table games for these onboard casinos can still maintain low betting limits, so as to keep up with the low gambling skills, owing to the little gambling experience, of most gamblers onboard. However, some experienced gamblers have joined the fray, and some cruise lines have started to lift the betting limits. This also allows such cruise ship casinos to attract high rollers. Some of these cruise lines include Carnival, Royal Caribbean International, and the Norwegian Cruise Lines. Even so, most cruise ship casino companies try to accommodate both experienced and novice gamblers. These companies include Holland America Line Casinos, Crystal Cruise Line Casinos, Costa Cruises Casinos, Cunard Lines Casinos, and Celebrity Cruise Line Casinos.


In general, gambling is banned in Japan. In fact, Chapter 23 of the Criminal Code prohibits gambling. However, there are exceptions to the ban including placing bets on motorsport races and horse races. Moreover, the authorities permit lottery and also allow people to gamble on public sports and football pools. This is done as a way to increase the amount of revenue collected by both local and state authorities. These games also provide a form of entertainment for the Japanese public. There are special laws regulating these activities, just as there are laws that permit and regulate cruise ship gambling.

Cruise ship gambling was legalized through the adoption of a series of casino legislation. To begin with, Japanese authorities were reluctant to allow any form of gambling in Japan because they feared that Japanese people, owing to their inexperience with casinos, will be addicted to gambling. However, the national authorities wanted to promote tourism, and one of the most effective ways of doing so was by allowing foreigners to engage in gambling in designated gambling spots. One of these spots was the boat, and support for boat gambling gave rise to cruise ship gambling. On 13th December 2016, the Japanese Parliament approved a law that legalized cruise ship gambling. It is therefore evident that legal cruise ship gambling in Japan is still in its infancy, and we have to wait and see how it pans out. Nevertheless, this legislation has allowed Japanese-registered cruise ships to operate onboard casinos, both in Japanese waters and in international waters.


The legal status of gambling in Israel is a little bit complex, but it can be simplified as follows: casino gambling is prohibited but cruise ship gambling is permitted in special circumstances. Nonetheless, cruise ship gambling is considered as a special form of casino gambling; and this has led Israeli authorities to tightly regulate the sector. The Penal Law 5737 that was enacted in 1977 prohibits the most form of traditional casino gambling, and some of these restrictions also apply to casino ship gambling. However, several clauses of this law were changed, updated and ratified by the Israeli Attorney General in 2005; and they included a total ban on backgammon even on cruise ships. The law was further updated in 2007, and the ban on land-based casinos was retained, and it still applies up to date. Nonetheless, the law now permits horse betting, sports betting, and lottery; as well as cruise ship gambling in a number of port cities including Eilat, and Haifa.

The Gavish Committee report of 1995 called on Israeli authorities to permit gambling as a way to shore up the tourism industry, as well as dissuade ordinary Israelis from engaging in illegal gambling. The recommendations of this report led the foundation for legalized cruise ship gambling; and at present, cruise lines operating from Eilat and Haifa can provide onboard casino gambling to both Israeli and foreign tourists. In fact, Mano Cruises, especially the Royal Iris cruise ship provides special onboard best online casino nz services.



Gambling is prohibited in Thailand. However, the state allows people to place bets in the state-sponsored lottery, as well as in horserace betting. A royal decree issued by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, now deceased, played a key role in proscribing casino gambling. Even so, there was a need for the authorities to create special legal clauses that would allow for gambling so as to cater to the gambling needs of foreign tourists visiting Thailand. This is because tourism contributes significantly to the Thai economy, and the authorities must, therefore, ensure that laws galvanize the sector, rather than undermine it. Consequently, the authorities have permitted cruise ship gambling for cruise lines operating from a number of selected port cities, including Pattaya Bay, Laem Chabang, and the town of Phuket which houses a deep sea port.