U.S. Marshals release Texas Star Casino boat

Freeport – U.S. marshals no longer are playing Texas Hold’Em with the Texas Star Casino boat after the attorney of electrical company Instrumentation Inc. said he received a letter of credit from the vessel owner Friday, ending an almost month-long seizure of the boat that resulted from a dispute in payment.

„The U.S. marshals are gone, so that tells you something. It tells you we’re here to stay. We’re not going nowhere,“ said Michael O’Brien, chief executive officer of Texas Star Casino.

Officials from Instrumentation Inc. claim the company is owed about USD 40,000 for electrical work performed on the 167-foot ship since January, in addition to interest and legal fees, said attorney Ernest Powell. O’Brien has refuted the claim, arguing it’s a payment request for work that wasn’t performed and some supplies that were not received.

He said this is an isolated incident, and Texas Star Casino has a solid reputation with all its other contractors.

Powell said the boat’s release isn’t part of a settlement. Instead, he said he received an USD 80,000 letter of credit, which acts like a bond to free the ship from being detained.

„There’s no judicial determination as to the amount owed, or anything of that nature. It’s just security for the release of the ship,“ Powell said.

„A letter of credit is almost like a promise to pay, but the promise is made by a bank, so it’s much more secure than simply an individual’s check. I won’t be able to negotiate the letter of credit unless we win the case.“

O’Brien declined to comment on the legalities of the release, except to say the situation will be resolved in court.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 7 in the Houston court of U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, Powell said.

U.S. marshals took possession of the vessel April 7 in response to the claim. Under the seizure, the Texas Star Casino boat could move the ship within the port, but not out of the port, said U.S. marshals spokeswoman Marianne Matus. Now they are free to roam, she said.

O’Brien stressed that the legal situation hasn’t stopped progress at the gaming boat. The 12,000 square-foot vessel is slated to feature games such as craps, blackjack, roulette, poker and slot machines, with a bingo parlor situated on the nearby dock.

„We’ve had a lot of wonderful comments,“ O’Brien said. „We’ve had people from New York and all over stop to look at it.“

He advised the public to „get their entertainment money ready,“ because the boat should set sail sometime soon.