Riverboat gambling became legal Monday in Iowa with Howard Keel, star of the 1951 musical "Showboat," accorded the honor of throwing the first dice aboard the Diamond Lady.

"You never know what type of suprises you'll find aboard," said Arnold Millan, vice president of marketing for Steamboat Casino River Cruises, one of three companies on the ground floor of the new industry.The Casino Belle, which docks at Dubuque, and the President, which docks at Davenport, are the two other boats authorized to host gambling along the Mississippi.

Iowa is the first state to legalize floating casinos since the 19th century, and Illinois hopes to have the opulent gambling emporiums cruising by July.

Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota may also join the game.