Walsh: Lynn casino boat sails in May

March 15, 2013
By Thor Jourgensen/The Daily Item

It’s called the Aquasino, and Lynn native James Walsh said he is bringing the 225-foot floating casino into Lynn Harbor in May to make twice daily runs out to sea where passengers can gamble, eat and take in a show.

“It’s a full casino with roulette, poker, an onboard restaurant. I’m planning comedy nights, even weddings,” Walsh said.

Wash described Aquasino as a “mini cruise ship” with four decks and said he hopes to launch casino cruises in the first half of May with sailings scheduled Wednesday through Sunday. The ship will sail from the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation pier located on Marine Boulevard off the Lynnway.

A Lynn native would like to bring this 'mini-cruise ship' to Lynn in May to take gambling passengers out to sea twice daily
A Lynn native would like to bring this 'mini-cruise ship' to Lynn in May to take gambling passengers out to sea twice daily. (Courtesy Photo)

Walsh said the ship holds 600 people, plus crew. It is currently based in Jacksonville, Fla. He said he plans to rent a small, EDIC-owned building next to the pier for use as waiting and ticket sales facility.

“The city has been outstanding working with me,” Walsh said.

He plans to hire 155 employees with 50 assigned to each sailing shift. He also hopes to forge a relationship with a Massachusetts school training people to work in casinos.

“I will be on site full time,” Walsh said.

EDIC Director James Cowdell, who announced Walsh’s plans Wednesday to the Lynn Business Partnership, said he will support an EDIC loan application if Walsh files one. Cowdell said EDIC can link borrowers to federal loans intended to promote waterfront activity.

Cowdell noted that Horizon’s Edge operated successfully on the waterfront and said Walsh is bringing to Lynn “a much nicer vessel than Horizon’s.”

“We try to create jobs — this brings people to the waterfront, where we are trying to put an emphasis,” Cowdell said.

Walsh has run commuter boats, fishing trips and other marine-related businesses in Lynn.

“My family has been working out of Lynn Harbor since 1960,” he said.

Walsh said it will take the Aquasino about 75 minutes to sail out of the harbor into “federal waters” where gambling is permitted. Horizon’s Edge operated out of the harbor from 2000 to 2009 and its steady customers included West Lynn resident Paul Emmons and his 84-year-old grandfather.

“He went out daily and I used to go out a lot,” Emmons said.

Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce President David Solimine Jr. said Horizon’s Edge employed Lynn residents and attracted people to Lynn to spend money.

“Anything that draws people to Lynn is good and I guess it is quite an impressive boat,” Solimine said.

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

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