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Gambling boat set to sail away

Tonight brings the farewell cruise for the city's only gambling boat.

The Dixie Duck Show Boat & Casino is moving to Key West.

But owner Randall Bono said he hopes to have another vessel in place at the Sponge Docks in about three months.

"We're looking to bring a faster boat to this market," he said.

That way, the boat can quicken the 13-mile trip from the dock into international waters, where it is legal to gamble.

Right now, the passage from the docks can take about two hours each way, leaving only about two hours of gambling time on a six-hour cruise.

Bono said he had always intended to move the slower Dixie Duck to Key West. He has owned the vessel, which had been called the Mr. Lucky, since January.

The 85-foot, red and white Dixie Duck is better suited for work in Key West, where the trip to international waters will be shorter, Bono said. Its new home will be at the Key West Conch Harbor.

"This is a party boat," he said.

The boat's move will put about 10 of its 32 employees out of work, although some will be following it to Key West. Bono said he has worked to find other jobs for the displaced employees.

Before the boat's departure, it will have two final cruises today, one at 11 a.m. and another at 7 p.m.

The cost is $17.95 for dinner and a cruise or $9.95 for the cruise only.