Casino Boat Fire Causes Chaos In Port Richey

Gambling can be a dangerous hobby. People develop addictions, lose hundreds, and if they’re lucky enough to win big, can face violence from people hoping to get their hands on that newfound cash. When gamblers set out to board a gambling boat in Port Richey this weekend, they were probably aware of these plights. Instead, they faced an entirely unexpected danger: a fire on the ship.

Casino Boat Fire in Port Richey

The casino boat was sitting in the Gulf of Mexico about twelve miles offshore. The reason for its positioning is due to an old law that defines twelve miles off the coast as international waters. This means that something that is heavily regulated or even illegal in the United States is often perfectly legal in international waters. To take advantage of the law about international waters, many gambling companies ferry patrons out to open water.

Since the casino boat was so far offshore, a shuttle was set to bring patrons out to the boat. There were 36 passengers on the shuttle on Sunday afternoon when the shuttle caught on fire.

Thinking quickly, the captain turned the  boat around and beached it in shallow waters, about 100 feet from the shore. This allowed passengers to jump from the fiery boat and into the water. From there, they were able to wade to shore. Residents of a nearby neighborhood rushed in to assist, providing blankets and helping elderly passengers out of the water.

One passenger, a 42-year-old woman, died as a result of the incident. Other passengers suffered injuries from the smoke and cold water, which was around 59 degrees the night of the accident. While the loss of a life is a massive tragedy, it’s likely that without the captain’s quick decision, the fire could have been far worse.

Liability Questions to Come

The cause of the fire is currently unknown. Like with any fire, there are many potential causes. It could have been caused by a mechanical issue, a defective part, or by the negligence of a crew member. A spokeswoman for the company claims that the shuttle had no previous issues.

In the wake of this scary incident, there will be doubt be some debate over who is liable for the fatality, injuries, and trauma. However, with details still emerging, it is still too soon to tell. While this story is tragic, it is a reminder of how communities come together in a time of need, and how quick decisions can prevent an even bigger tragedy.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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