Ship owners ready for riverboat bet

Maybe some mermaids for cocktail waitresses working the casino floor. A “Love Boat”-themed restaurant and deck lounge. The cliched, but fun, possibilities would be endless for the region’s only floating casino.

That’s what organizers behind a proposal to turn the massive, 1,000-feet-long S.S. United States into a casino hope the public starts believing. The nonprofit that owns the ship docked along Columbus Boulevard released details to a $200 million to $500 million project yesterday that would also mean a makeover of the waterfront surrounding the ship. The question is whether the ownership group for the long-stalled Foxwoods casino plan is interested.

“We were very intrigued with solving several problems at once,” said Dan McSweeney of the S.S. United States Conservancy, which owns the ship languishing more than a decade.

Obstacles for such an inventive proposal abound, however, and the largest is the state Gaming Control Board, which issued Foxwoods the license a few years ago based on its current plan for a big-box building — on land.

One state official altering the specifics of the currently licensed plan would likely lead to lawsuits from other applicants who initially applied for the right to a casino in 2006.

Mayor Michael Nutter, for his part, does find the conservancy’s proposal interesting.

“It is a very thoughtful plan and well presented,” Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald said yesterday.

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