Life’s a gamble. But for some of us, the ordinary risks we face each day don’t offer enough excitement, so we love to indulge in some extra gambling for fun (and, hopefully, for profit.) Buying a weekly lottery ticket is enough satisfy many of us, but millions of others prefer neon and noise with their gambling. For them, there are casinos.While Las Vegas and Monte Carlo are the two cities best known for their casinos, casinos have begun to crop up all over the United States. Even so, the cost of getting to a casino, and paying for lodging and meals during your stay, may be more than you’re willing to pay. But what if you could have a casino vacation which included the cost of your transportation, your lodgings, and your meals-and by meals, we mean five-star cuisine served at any time of the day or night?If that sounds like just the ticket, you should book your next vacation on a cruise ship. While most people don’t take cruises solely for the opportunity to gamble, those who do love thee cruise ship casinos. Delightfully laid-back compared to their noisy, crowded Las Vegas counterparts, their more relaxed atmosphere is due in large part to the well-trained and friendly dealers who are more than willing to educate passengers on the nuances of table games.Most cruise ship casino dealers are, in fact, British or European, and simply more “civilized” than land-based dealers who are under pressure to get as much money out of each player as possible.One thing you won’t get in a cruise ship casino, however, is free alcohol. The casino on your ship doesn’t need to entice you to play with drinks, because it’s the only casino available. So while you’re certainly welcome to imbibe as you play, whatever you drink will be charged to your onboard account.Your cruise ship will post the hours when the casino is open, and it won’t be open when you’re in port. Cruise ship casinos can operate only in international waters, but during your at sea days, you’ll probably be able to gamble between 11:00 AM and 2:00 or 3:00 AM.Many cruise ships have gaming lessons for their gambling wannabes. The casino staff will, for a small fee, teach you some professional gaming tips before you actually try your luck at the tables. You’ll be able to play all the classic table games like Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and Poker. Your cruise ship casino will have sot machines in abundance, video poker, and for the less sophisticated gambler, lots and lots of Bingo. The Bingo tournaments are usually held during the afternoon.One of the silliest, yet most popular, forms of cruise ship gambling is shipboard horse racing. The cruise ships don’t have Off-track Betting, so they offer in its place a game in which players move horses mounted on poles around a track. The distance of each move is determined by a roll of the dice. The final day of your cruise will be the culmination of the shipboard horse racing, when passengers are allowed to buy their horses for a set fee, usually $100, and race for a pot of the entire sales proceeds. Horse owning passengers will go all out, naming their steeds and even costuming them. Some cruise ships take 10% of the final pot and award it to the owner of the most cleverly dressed horse.One more aspect of cruise gambling is that many ports-of-call for popular cruise lines offer onshore gambling in some of the world’s most breathtaking locales. Nassau and Paradise Island in the Bahamas are just two examples of cruise ship gambling locales where your real payoff will be in enjoying the scenery!