Jack Remembers: All aboard for riverboat cruise to nowhere

By Jack Hackley

In the 1992 November election, voters approved gambling on a romantic riverboat that would cruise up and down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.
Even then, everyone but the voters knew these boats would never cruise and would be permanently docked.
Back then I decided to board the boat at Harrah’s in Kansas City and was stopped.  I asked why, and she said the next cruise started in 45 minutes and I should get in line.  When I asked where the cruise was going, she said, “Nowhere.”
I was going down I-70 and pulled in at Booneville to look at the Isle of Capri Casino there.  That casino sets up on the slope of hill with a service road and railroad between it and the river.
It has a moat around the casino and the Gaming Commission told me the casino sat on a barge in an artificial water basin.
I asked a worker if the casino was floating in that moat.  He said it was, and that he had to add six inches of water to it just last week.
I asked if the water had to come out of the Missouri River and he said, “No, I just use a hose from that water hydrant over there.”
I asked if he thought that “boat” would float down the river and he replied, “I wouldn’t want to be on it.”
The other day, I was heading north of Hannibal on 61 Highway and pulled off at LaGrange to see the riverboat casino there.  The casino at LaGrange sits up on a hill with a concrete foundation around the so-called boat, with no water in sight.  I called the Gaming Commission and they assured me the casino was sitting on a barge in a pool of water and that even though there was a major highway, a railroad track and a campground between the casino and the river, it was within the 1,000 feet of the river as the law specifies.
While I was looking at the foundation around the boat, an old boy came out of the casino who looked like he had just lost his last friend.  I asked him if he thought that casino was floating in a pool of water.  And he said, “If it is, I hope it sinks.”

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075, or  Visit


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