The riverboat gambling era is Iowa is down to its final cruise. The Mississippi Belle Two in Clinton is scheduled to leave the dock at one this afternoon on the final floating cruise for a riverboat casino in the state. Maureen Roushar is the marketing manager for the casino.
Roushar says it’s "bittersweet" as they say good-bye to riverboat gambling and focus their attention on land-based gaming. The Iowa Legislature passed a law creating riverboat casinos that went into effect in July of 1989. At that time all the boats were required to make a cruise at some time during the day.
While the cruising rule later changed, Roushar says the Mississippi Belle Two didn’t end the tradition. She says the legislature passed a bill in 2004 that allowed casino boats to become permanently moored, but Roushar says their boat continued to cruise as another form of entertainment. Roushar says things continued to change, and with the legislature dropping the requirement that the casino be on a boat, they’re moving to land.
They’re building a 115,000 square foot facility that will include a 1,000 seat events center, a 60-room hotel, the casino, and a sports themed restaurant and buffet. Roushar expects the boat to be full for the final run today. Roushar says it’s a two-hour cruise, but they sometimes go through the locks, and that will depend on the barge traffic.
Once the cruise is over Roushar says they’ll be looking to unload the boat. She says they’re seeking to sell the boat to someone who wants an excursion vessel. The final trip ends just over 16 years of slot machines and cruising in Clinton, as the boat began its trips up and down the river on June 14th 1991.