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Is The Missouri Belle Riverboat Casino From Ozark A Real Place?

The tale of a man relocating his family from the big city to a more rural area is usually a page from the sitcom playbook. But "Ozark" is anything but a laugh-a-minute romp. The crime family drama follows Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) as he's forced to relocate his family to Missouri and launder extraordinary amounts of money for a drug cartel. Over the course of the series, things have become unbearably intense, and moral compasses have steadily eroded among the characters, all of which have helped make "Ozark" a must-see Netflix series. 

The Navarro Cartel in "Ozark" is no pushover, and panic sets in during the early seasons as Marty and his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) struggle to figure out an operation big enough for their money laundering goals. That all changes in Season 3 when the two enter the riverboat casino business. They open the Missouri Belle Riverboat Casino, which proves to be a huge success and helps further the family's descent into the criminal lifestyle. This particular story of a riverboat casino used to move drug money is a work of fiction (pending the days we read about it as headline news). But that doesn't necessarily mean that the riverboat as seen in "Ozark" is fake.

The casino is a real riverboat

While the use of exterior shots of the Lakes of the Ozarks would suggest that the series is filmed in Missouri, the actual truth is that much of "Ozark" is shot a little further south in the Peach State. Per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Netflix series has used various counties in the Atlanta, Georgia, area for filming. This also includes Stone Mountain, Georgia, where the actual Missouri Belle Riverboat used as the Byrde's casino is located. Via Pop Culture, the riverboat's location is at a business called Atlanta Adventure Tours, where fans can likely catch a glimpse of the boat while on a bike ride or kayaking the river. However, don't expect to encounter a real casino. The series produces the interior shots elsewhere, as the actual boat doesn't have anything related to gambling other than the signs featured in the show.

The Missouri Belle isn't the only riverboat fans can visit. An attempt to see the Big Muddy Riverboat, which also comes under the ownership of the Byrdes during Season 3, requires a trip to a Joe's Crab Shack in Savannah, Georgia (via Atlas of Wonders). As to why the series would choose to film in Georgia instead of its story setting, the reason is likely because Georgia is a great cost-effective state for filming. The location offers some juicy tax incentives to filmmakers. And they are too good to pass up. For instance, in 2021, Georgia granted $1.2 billion in tax credits for numerous filming productions (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Fans couldn't help but notice a small detail about the casino's name

Even though it's a front for some illegal money laundering, the Missouri Belle Casino is a catchy name. If the riverboat were a legit gambling operation, we're sure that commercial that Marty and Wendy made during Season 3 would probably bring in big business. Who wouldn't want to gamble the night away at the charming spot? The answer to that is fans who have been following the disturbing and heartbreaking trek of Marty and his family. But in case binging episodes of the Netflix show isn't enough to show that all is not good with the casino and the family, maybe we should think about its name.

Fans on a Reddit post, upvoted over 400 times, noted that when sounding out the name of the Byrde's riverboat casino, it sounds like the word "Miserable." The realization has delighted fans, and it has also caused some to draw a parallel between "Ozark" and another classic Jason Bateman series. "'Arrested Development's wordplay must follow Jason," u/RedTexas23 said. Fans have already noticed a few "Arrested Development" references in "Ozark," with some no doubt theorizing that the two shows are linked despite their starkly different tones. We're sure this clever riverboat wordplay will add more fuel to that raging theory fire.