Photo Credit: Pasco County Fire Rescue

A shuttle headed for the Tropical Breeze Casino Cruise caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico last night, leaving one dead. Maria Lampropoulos becomes the fifth-winningest woman in poker after a $1 million score at the PCA. First Pennsylvania online gambling to appear within months. And more.

Casino-goers Forced to Jump Overboard, One Dead

Last night, the Island Breeze caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico with fifty passengers on board. The boat, operated by Sun Cruz, was a shuttle, transporting would-be gamblers out to the Tropical Breeze Casino ship. Such casino cruises are a work-around to state gambling regulations; the casino itself remains in international waters, beyond the reach of state and federal laws, while the shuttle service to the casino is itself perfectly legal.

Fortunately for everyone involved, the boat’s captain realized something was amiss and turned back to shore before the blaze was too large; by the time it got out of control and it became necessary to abandon ship, it was within easy reach of shore and floating in only eight to ten feet of water. As a result, and despite the frigidly cold water, everyone aboard made it to shore, with only fifteen injured. Unfortunately, one woman died in hospital this morning; the nature of her injuries is not clear at this juncture.

Sun Cruz has a controversial history. Its sale in 2000 became the subject of multiple investigations due to the illegal involvement of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who used his political connections to facilitate the deal. A dispute between Abramoff and former owner Gus Boulis ensued, culminating in Boulis’s murder by partners of Abramoff’s with connections to the Gambino crime family. Additionally, this isn’t the first time since the sale that a Sun Cruz shuttle has gone down in flames; it happened once before, in 2004. The cause of the more recent fire is still being investigated.

Quick Hitters

– It looks like poker has a new power couple. Maria Lampropoulos just won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event for over $1 million, mere days after her boyfriend Ivan Luca managed to final table the $100,000 High Roller there. The pair’s relationship first garnered widespread attention in 2016, after the two found themselves playing each other heads up for the Eureka Poker Tour Rozvadov Main Event.

Confusion still reigns supreme in the case of the Red Rock Casino bad beat jackpot. The jackpot hit last month, but was invalidated on a technicality. Now, a complaint to the Nevada Gaming Commission has hit delays due to some sort of “procedural error,” and the unexpected retraction of said complaint by one of the parties involved.

– The US Supreme Court is still debating whether to strike down the federal ban on US sports betting, opening the door for individual states to make up their own minds. As many as 11 states are likely to pass legislation within the year if allowed to do so, with perhaps up to 30 states doing so eventually.

Pennsylvania’s first legal online gambling should appear within the quarter, in the form of the state’s lottery. Online poker and casino gambling should follow later, but probably still within the year.