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Casino ship owner settles pay dispute

The Treasure Island company agreed to cover missed wages by Monday to avoid federal seizure of the LasVegas-style gaming ship.

By JAMES THORNER
Published September 23, 2006


Eager to launch floating slot machines and gaming tables into the Gulf of Mexico, the owners of the Casino Royale gambling ship have agreed to pay back wages to 32 crew members.

The deal struck Friday averts a possible federal seizure of the 400-foot craft to satisfy $230,000 in wages unpaid since early July.

Four hours of phone haggling between the crew's lawyer in San Francisco and the boat owners' lawyer in the British Virgin Islands sealed the deal.

Casino Royale agreed to wire money to the crew's attorney, Michael Black, on Monday. Black described the payout as "enough to cover the claim with a small balance to be paid after that."

"Unless the money's not in on Monday, we've got a deal," said Black, who sued ship owners last week. "The owners, thankfully, didn't want their ship to be arrested."

Casino Royale's corporate owner, Ocean's 21 LLC of Treasure Island, wanted to start sailing the Las Vegas-style gambling ship last month. Catamarans would shuttle gamblers to the ship anchored in international waters.

But the company awaits Coast Guard certification to carry passengers, a delay the company blames on a paperwork glitch.

Ocean's attorney John Padgett blamed the postponed paychecks on "miscommunication" between the crew and Tenmark Marine, the company hired to manage the ship.

He said Ocean's would make good on the back pay while delving into what happened to money wired Tenmark in August for wages.

James Thorner can be reached at thorner@sptimes.com or 813 226-3313.