A Trump Indiana riverboat casino used to be a fixture of legal gambling in the Hoosier State. The vessel, formerly known as the Trump Princess, is now for sale.
Along with its sister ship, both of which are owned by Spectacle Entertainment, the asking price for the watercraft sits at a low price of $6 million. Whether Spectacle would cut a deal with a buyer for both ships is unclear, but this represents a chance to own a tangible part of Indiana gambling history.
Backstory on the Trump Indiana riverboat casino
After the Indiana Legislature approved the issuing of licenses to operate riverboat casinos in 1994, the Trump Princess became one of Indiana’s first in June of 1995. It operated under that name on Lake Michigan until 2002, when the law changed to allow it to dock on the lakeside.
The Trump Princess was purchased by Spectacle Entertainment in 2005. The new owners rebranded the boat to the Majestic Star II.
Spectacle bought a slightly larger boat and named it the Majestic Star at the same time. The vessels retain those names today.
Another recent legal change that allowed casinos to become land-based resulted in a revised strategy for Spectacle. The company will begin construction on a new casino under the Hard Rock brand in Gary next year.
For that reason, Spectacle wants to sell both riverboats. Both are in impeccable condition, and the Majestic Star II has a capacity of just under 3,000 people.
There are a number of things a buyer could do with the boats. It might be difficult to reestablish them as casinos, however.
Why the gaming days for the Majestic Star II are likely over
Despite Indiana’s recent gambling law changes, it doesn’t appear the state is keen to issue two new casino licenses. Even if that weren’t the case, there are other concerns.
A primary concern is market saturation. There are already multiple gaming facilities near the state’s major bodies of water.
That will especially be true when the Hard Rock opens in Gary. In comparison, these riverboats will seem antiquated and small.
That doesn’t mean there’s no commercial value in the boats, however. Someone could cash in on the historical value and/or seaworthiness of the vessels, if they so choose.
Why the ships might be worth the current asking price
The Majestic Star II’s history as the Trump Princess not only makes it of historical value in terms of Indiana history and gambling history, but also within wider US history as well. Operating the boat as a floating museum is an idea that could come with tax benefits.
That would especially be true if a buyer could get the boat registered as a historic object. That would help offset not only the cost to acquire the boat but help to maintain and operate it as well.
While riverboat cruises without gaming aren’t as in demand, there would be little competition for them on Lake Michigan or the Ohio River. Whether the operation would turn a profit is questionable, but it’s probably the best way forward if someone buys the boat as a business venture.
The $6 million price tag isn’t bad when considering the pair cost $45 million to build in the 1990s. Perhaps just for the novelty of it, someone could very well fork out the cash.