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Diamond Girl Riverboat On line casino: How It Ended Up within the Tough

Posted on: November 4, 2022, 12:17h. 

Final up to date on: November 4, 2022, 12:27h.

Per week after operating our first story on the Diamond Girl, its tough sketch of the historic riverboat on line casino’s historical past can now be fleshed out due to Don Sanders. He was the chief mate who helped sail the Diamond Girl from Bettendorf, Iowa down the Mississippi River to Biloxi, Miss. beneath Capt. Ken Murphy in August 1992.

Diamond Lady riverboat casino
The Diamond Girl was the primary authorized playing vessel launched into Iowa’s portion of the Mississippi River for the reason that nineteenth century. It now sits caught within the mud the place it sank final 12 months in a Memphis lake. (Picture: MSN)

“How do I really feel taking a look at her like she is now?” Sanders repeated On line’s query. “I’m pissed off that the Girl was uncared for and betrayed and wasn’t appeared over and stored afloat. I’m pissed that that the egocentric, grasping —holes who owned her allowed her to sink and fill with muddy river water.”

Don Sanders
Don Sanders, photographed when he captained the Gamers Riverboat On line casino at Metropolis, Sick. (Picture: Don Sanders)

The Diamond Girl helped launched trendy playing in each Iowa and Mississippi, which 30 years in the past, solely allowed it on water. The riverboat, christened in Bettendorf by “Wheel of Fortune” co-host Vanna White on April 1, 1991, sank final 12 months throughout a Mississippi River freeze close to Memphis, the place it had been saved  in a marina since 2008. And now, the drought-receded Mississippi has uncovered her ravaged hull.

Sanders, 81, is retired and lives along with his spouse on the Ohio River in Aurora, Ind.

“I’m operating out of time,” he mentioned, “And I’m pissed as a result of I, nor anybody else, can or will do something to deliver the Diamond Girl again – simply to get her afloat, cleaned up, and discover a new enterprise for her.”

Biloxi Blues

The riverboat’s builder, Bernie Goldstein, pulled her out of Iowa after solely a 12 months as a result of he wasn’t a fan of Iowa’s laws and tax charges.  Sanders mentioned he recollects the voice of Capt. Ken in the course of the weeklong journey downstream towards the Gulf, throughout which the Diamond Girl shoved a ticket barge in entrance of her.

Diamond Lady pushing barge
The Diamond Girl, with Sanders aboard, pushes a ticket barge down the Mississippi in the direction of Biloxi in August 1992. (Picture: Anne Zeiger Assortment)

“Capt. Ken was one of many desired  captains on the river,” Sanders mentioned. “On the way in which down the river, he acquired a minimum of 10 different gives.”

As soon as in Biloxi, the Diamond Girl was tied to her sister boat, the Emerald Girl, then to the ticket barge and to the dock. The conglomeration grew to become the newly branded Isle of Capri dockside on line casino.

“The 2 boats have been nosed into the shore, with the ticket barge within the center,” Sanders recalled.

Murphy didn’t have the right license to stick with the boat in Biloxi. In response to Sanders, his license coated  the Mississippi and its tributaries, however not the Mississippi Sound, the place the Biloxi on line casino operated. So he determined to take a job opening the Gamers Riverboat On line casino at Metropolis, Sick.

Sanders didn’t have that license, both, however he didn’t have Capt. Ken’s choices. So he went to high school for the license in New Orleans whereas a smelly fish warehouse was prepped to grow to be the Isle of Capri’s places of work. Upon his return, Sanders was named a captain of the Emerald Girl. (Every boat had 4 captains, who took shifts, even when the boats have been docked.)

“However Biloxi didn’t pay a lot,” Sanders mentioned. “I had a younger household who was dwelling in Natchez, Miss. and I used to be commuting each two weeks. The Mississippi was like a wierd land to them.”

Final Boat Leaving

When Goldstein’s firm, On line casino America, opened the Isle of Capri-Vicksburg on the Mississippi River 200 miles northwest of Biloxi, he requested Sanders to sail the Diamond Girl there. Goldstein had already deliberate to rehouse his Biloxi operations in an $18 million, two-story barge that may open in 1994.

Sanders turned the job down. As a substitute, he joined his previous good friend, Capt. Ken, on the Gamers Riverboat On line casino, which was nearer to his house in Northern Kentucky.

“I’m fortunate I didn’t go to Vicksburg,” Sanders mentioned.

After the Diamond Girl sailed there in August 1993, she was docked with the identical ticket barge and each have been surrounded by a moat to kind the playing operation of the second Isle of Capri.

“I heard that the dike across the boat sprang a leak, and the captain who went there as an alternative of me was fired,” Sanders mentioned.

In 1994, the Diamond Girl was changed on the Isle of Capri-Vicksburg by a bigger dockside on line casino. How she ended up in Memphis 14 years later remains to be at present a thriller to us. The Riverside Park Marina, the place what’s left of the Diamond Girl rests right this moment, didn’t return voicemails left by On line

“I used to be lengthy passed by then,” Sanders mentioned.

Keep tuned.



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