"Cruise-to-Nowhere"Legislation Sees Mixed Results

Wednesday, August 25, 1999
House Bill (H.B.) 19, in North Carolina, was passed by the North Carolina House of Representatives. The bill prohibits "cruises to nowhere" and regulates other offshore gaming operations the state doesn't have the authority to ban outright. Vessels that embark and disembark passengers in North Carolina, but make an intervening stop in a neighboring state, would be regulated under the bill. To be considered to have made an intervening stop, a vessel would have to dock at a port in another state, remain continuously at the port for at least six hours, and allow passengers to disembark the vessel for sightseeing, shopping or other similar tourism-related activity. Such vessels would be required to pay a tax of six dollars per passenger, withhold state income tax from payouts to state residents amounting to more than $600 dollars and acquire an alcohol permit at a cost of $10,000. In South Carolina, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved General Bill 3002 to prohibit gambling activity on "cruises to nowhere" from South Carolina. A local-option-vote provision was added to the measure. Sen. Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston) demanded more public hearings, warning the state may be forced to reimburse existing cruise-to-nowhere operators in the event of a ban, which some argue would amount to an unconstitutional taking of property. Withough the local option, the ban would extend to large cruise ships wanting to dock in Charleston. Sen. Luke Rankin (D-Myrtle Beach), a sponsor of the bill, said the measure includes language submitted by the State Ports Authority designed to exempt major cruise lines from the ban. McConnell rejected the language as "not good enough." In Virginia, less than three weeks after the Senate voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 802, the House rejected the measure. Opponents of the bill argued its passage was unnecessary since developer Paul Galloway had earlier announced the suspension of his plans to launch a casino cruise operation from Virginia Beach. Galloway's announcement came after U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) introduced legislation to prohibit cruise-to-nowhere gaming operations in Virginia and other states that have not passed laws specifically allowing them. Assembly Bill 6771, introduced by Assembly members Richard Gottfried (D-New York), Adriano Espaillat (D-New York), Deborah Glick (D-New York) and Susan John (D-Monroe), seeks to make "cruise-to-nowhere" gaming a class E felony in the state of New York. The measure, cosponsored by Vivian Cook (D-Queens), Sandra Galef (D-Westchester) and Paul Harenberg (D-Suffolk), was referred to the Codes Committee. Under the bill, gambling would be prohibited on vessels embarking from any point within the state and disembarking at the same or another point in the state. The prohibition would not apply to "gambling activity conducted on U.S.-flagged or foreign-flagged vessels during travel from a foreign nation or another state or possession of the U.S., up to the point of first entry into New York waters, or during travel to a foreign nation or another state or possession of the U.S. from the point of departure from New York waters…" Senate Bill 1399 is identical to A.6771. Introduced by Sens. Frank Padavan (R-Queens), Joseph Holland (R-Orange, Rockland), Kenneth LaValle (R-Suffolk) and John Marchi (R-Richmond), it was referred to the Senate Codes Committee.

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