phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Riverboat gamble

Posted by ESC on January 15, 2007

In Reply to: Riverboat gamble posted by ESC on January 15, 2007

: : Does anyone know the origin of the phrase 'riverboat gamble'? It was mentioned on Channel 4 news last week and I can't seem to trace it back any further than a political discussion on Reaganomics.

: : Cheers,
: : Gareth.

: "It's more than a risk, it's a riverboat gamble," said Leon E. Panetta, a Democratic member of the Iraq Study Group and former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.
: Accessed January 15, 2007.

: "Tom Daschle has made a riverboat gamble, and he stands to lose his political shirt." Accessed January 15, 2007.

: I can't find it in my reference books. But I am guessing that it means the odds are stacked against you. And that in the past riverboat gambling was fixed so the house won most of the time.

Or maybe a gamble on a riverboat was risky because: "Rich and poor ships also carried the notorious 'Mississippi river gamblers' or 'river gamblers' (both terms common by the late 1840s), ranging from the professional poker players who fleeced plantation owners of their year's profits to sleight-of-hand artists and con men who preyed on the poorer innocents." From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976). Page 347.