Page 34 - May2017

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happening city,” he says, “You can
see the juices coming out of it, the
energy is incredible.” The proximity
to Houston is an advantage, as well.
“This is a unique attraction, it gives
Galveston yet another thing that no
one else has.”
Far from being mere financial
strategy, the decision to purchase
Jacks or Better was an easy one for
Mark, who has long held a fascinated
interest in gambling and gaming
from an entertainment standpoint. “I
knew every game there was to play,
so when an opportunity came up
through the ship, I decided to get on
the other side of the table.” Thus he
approached his business model from
a player’s standpoint.
“I knew what the players wanted,”
he affirms. “A lot of casino owners will
do the bare minimum and assume
that people are just going to come no
matter what, but I wanted to create a good, fun place to play.”
He even goes so far as to include rare, vintage games that
many casinos have not featured since the 19
Two floors of bars, dining, and Las Vegas style gambling are
led by Rocky Herrin, General Manager of front-of-the-house
operations, who has decades of experience in hospitality.
Games include 181 slot machines set to Vegas standards
and a number of gaming tables that boast the same odds
as the Sin City. Additionally, Jacks or Better holds the only
legalized sports book outside of Vegas and Atlantic City. Slot
games range from a penny to five dollars, and tables have
reasonable buy-ins from five to twenty-five dollars with
maximum bets of five hundred.
The maritime portion of operations is led by General
Manager, Captain Shane Hollar, who holds nearly twenty-five
years of captain experience. The ship itself measures 155 feet
and four levels, three of which are accessible to guests, and sets
its capacity at 250 people.
Captain Hollar was also one of the biggest advocates for moving
the boat to Galveston. “I had Galveston in mind two years ago,”
he says. “We are really happy to be here.”
For each trip, he sails the Jacks or Better exactly 9.1 miles
offshore into federal waters where gaming is officially legal. The
trip takes about one hour and fifteen minutes each way, and
three hours in between are allotted for gambling.
The first floor hosts a cornucopia of slot machines and a smaller
satellite bar. The main Rum Runner bar is located on the second
level, situated amongst a dining area, cocktail area, the cashier,
and a large expanse of gaming tables and higher-end slots.
Surrounded by huge windows and a panoramic mural of Las
Vegas, the Rum Runner serves up a full bar any way you like it as
well as food from the freshly prepared bar menu.
On the third floor, a covered patio with comfortable lounge
furniture sits adjacent to the bridge, and beyond that sits a large
open-air deck with tables and seating. This is the spot where live
entertainment serenades breathtaking views of the Texas sunset
on the boat ride out, and it also provides a place for fresh
air and a peaceful respite during gaming hours. But on the
boat ride in, the live entertainment returns and half the
deck turns into a dance floor for a raucous good time to
close out the night.
Currently, Jacks or Better is working to create an all-
inclusive experience by enlisting the help of local Concierges
to establish a “stay and play” program, and in the distant
future they even hope to launch another boat in their
fleet. But in the meantime, Jacks or Better has brought
to Galveston a glimpse of its former glory, and a distinct
opportunity to deepen even further its ambiance and
Jacks or Better Casino Boat
is located at Galveston Yacht
Basin, 601 N. Holiday Drive. Sailings are scheduled for
Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-4:30pm and 6:30pm-midnight,
Sundays 11am-7pm. Free parking. For reservations or more
information visit or email Find them on Facebook
Second floor gaming tables
Second floor crap table
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