Since Chinese President Xi Jinping started cracking down on gambling in 2014, the Chinese gaming world has been hit very hard. Businesses are reluctant to expand, workers are worried about their jobs and high rollers have been scared off. Caught in the crosswinds have been the Chinese gambling ships, which once served as a hotbed for action. Nowadays, they're nothing more than a sinking ship.
The latest storm is brewing over the New Imperial Star, which is a massive casino ship that was taken by the Chinese government. That came to be after they discovered problems onboard during a routine inspection. However, the crew is still onboard and they say they won't leave until they are paid the money owed for the previous six months. The problem is that ownership is nowhere to be found.
Captain Valerie Lyzhyn, the head of a 45-person crew, says that his team is awaiting payment for six months of work, but rations are running low as they hold out onboard. They are running out of food very quickly to the point where there is only one egg for each crew member per day.
The problems started back in 2014 when President Xi Jinping put the gambling world under a microscope and instituted a widespread campaign into cleaning it up. Plenty of corruption was discovered and plenty of arrests followed suit. Lyzhyn said that he didn't even know who owned the ship he was working on at the time, but he did know that it was managed by Skywill Management. Nowadays, their phone numbers are no longer in service. Lyzhyn and his crew are waiting for a total of $400,000 to be paid before they leave the ship, but the bet here is that they're going to be waiting a long time to see that money - even a fraction of it - before they get back to land.
In their prime, there were at least 12 casino cruisers in business. They would pick up customers at 8:00pm in Hong Kong and then take them back to land after 12 hours of gambling. Nowadays, that number is sitting at four as the gambling industry has been hit hard by the government, and things aren't expected to improve anytime soon. Lyzhyn has said that he hopes the government will actually take over the ship within weeks and that would start the legal process of him and his crew getting their money. However, the government doesn't appear to care about the well being of the crew members either physically or financially.
It's a huge fall from grace for what was once a burgeoning business. Originally, the cruiser was dressed up with top of the line materials, including swanky chandeliers and cobalt blue felt for the tables. Nowadays, they're just collecting dust, hosting a last stand of a crew that has been bluffed out of money. The crew is expecting a resolution within two weeks, but it looks like until the laws change, the idea of gambling cruise ships is going to be left out to sea.