The residents of Hong Kong love gambling, but there are is only one legal outlet – horse racing. The most common workaround for those wanting high stakes thrills is a short ferry trip to the casinos of Macau, but there is another one – boarding a casino ship bound for international waters.
‘Jimei’ is the easiest casino ship to find – by day it is usually moored out in the middle of Victoria Harbour.
By afternoon it moves to the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, ready for the punters to board.
As darkness falls, she departs the wharf.
Headed 12 nautical miles due south of Hong Kong, where the laws of the land no longer apply.
Come morning, she will steam back into Hong Kong, some punters returning with their winnings, others with the shirts on their back.
Tickets on a casino ships cost somewhere between HK$400-500 for an overnight trip, including buffet meals, a karaoke bar pass the time until the casino opens, and a bed for you to ponder your losses.
From Quartz – 16 hours on one of Hong Kong’s overnight casino cruise boats:
Casino ships have an unsavory reputation, including links to triads and prostitution. The perceived lawlessness of “international waters” makes gambling on board, miles from shore and far from any law enforcement, seem much more shady than heading over to glittering Macau. To see how well that reputation matched reality, we spent a night afloat.
The South China Morning Post also took a ride – A slice of the gambler’s life on Neptune’s casino cruise:
The casino ship, which has been operating out of Hong Kong for nearly four years, is hardly the ‘brand new’ five-star attraction touted in the glossy brochure, and the Russian signs on various doors hint at a previous life in colder climes. However, the cabins are clean and comfortable, the food is plentiful and reasonably varied, and the atmosphere is less smoke-filled than you might expect for a nation of chain-smokers.
But the conditions for staff onboard the ships is another matter:
The galley smells like decay. Flies circle dirty pots and pans, and the temperature on board is sweltering. While the bustle of Hong Kong continues outside, a crew of 46 men and women have been stuck for six months on a casino ship anchored in the eastern harbor, near Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.