During the early years of gambling in the United States, it was difficult to find an establishment outside of places like Atlantic City and Las Vegas. As such, cruise ships were loaded down with slots, table games and more that could be accessed once the ship was three miles out into open international water. A lot has changed since then, and now there are tons of state-owned river boat gambling cruise lines that can provide access to casinos in various parts of the country.
River boat gambling cruise options were huge back in the 19th century and were often considered romantic getaways. Of course, some of the criminals of that time were also hard at work, but that isn't what most people tend to remember. The reason why their popularity grew in the first place is because those ships were actually used as a main form of transportation but since travel was slow, the games gave the passengers a way to pass the time. Later, as travel by train and later automobile became more mainstream, they were slowly phased out and only a few still remain - mostly for tourists.
Of course, that isn't to say that you can't still get on a river boat and spend your money on blackjack, poker, slots, video poker and all of your other favorites. You absolutely can, but that vessel isn't going to take you anywhere. It will likely remain docked on a permanent basis and, believe it or not, this is done primarily for political reasons. In states where gambling used to be completely outlawed, legislators who saw the amount of revenue that casinos could generate pitched the idea to the public to get votes. After all, if the establishment wasn't technically on land, it made people feel much more secure.
River boat gambling cruise options are part of a growing industry and they will continue to welcome patrons for as long as the law continues to allow them. As of right now, there are several states working to pass some sort of similar legislation along with laws that will make room for some online activity, as well. If you are currently living in an area where such activities are prohibited, keep an eye to the water if you live near a river - you never know when it might be your area's turn to enjoy one of these luxury ships!