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January 11th, 2010

When Is a Gambling Vessel Employee Considered a Maritime Worker?

Today, when I checked in on my Twitter account, I read a post by the CompNewsNetwork that piqued my interest.  Their post asks the question: “is an employee of a gambling vessel considered a maritime worker?”  Their answer seemed to be a resounding NO.  My answer is that it depends, but YES they can be.

The article’s focus on the worker herself is misplaced. For this inquiry should really be stated as “is the gambling vessel considered a vessel at all?”  The vessel’s status will reveal if its workers can be considered Jones Act seamen.  If the gambing boat, here a Riverboat Casino, is incapable of movement and intended to be permanently moored then its workers cannot be considered Jones Act seamen or maritime workers.  If, however, the vessel is capable of being moved and does in fact move, then yes the workers on board can be Jones Act seamen and if injured, recover damages under federal maritime law.

In the case mentioned, Plaintiff was employed as a table games dealer in the Casino where she was repeatedly bitten by fleas during the course of her employment. Treatment for her adverse reaction to the flea bites allegedly caused a heart attack.  The court focused on the riverboat casino being an “indefinitely moored dockside casino with no transportation function or purpose.”  However, this still leaves room for cases to be maintained under the Jones Act, general maritime law or other suit in admiralty for situations in which the gaming vessel or casino boat is an actual vessel in navigation.

If you are a galley hand, caterer, casino dealer, pit boss, or other crewmember of a riverboat casino, gambling vessel or casino boat, and you have been hurt on the job, please seek the advice of an experienced maritime attorney before assuming you do not have a Jones Act caseContact us at info@smslegal.com for a free evaluation of your case.  We handle maritime personal injury cases all over the United States and all over the world and have done so very successfully for over 40 years.

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