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Lucky In Love

By Melanie Reffes

Puerto Rico Stellaris Casino at the San Juan Marriott Resort is open day and night. Photo Credit Mariott International

With love in the air and Lady Luck by your side, couples will always find a winning gaming getaway in the Caribbean. Whether it’s date-night in a resort casino or a wedding party with a passion for poker, kick it up a notch, swap the beach for blackjack and check out our best bets in the tropics.

Bingo and Blackjack

One of 18 casinos in Puerto Rico, Casino Metro at the Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino is the largest with 400 slot machines and 18 table games where dealers aim to outwit players at blackjack, poker and baccarat. From a penny bet to a dollar down, the casino is open 24/7 with gratis snacks and cocktails. In the stylish San Juan suburb called Condado, high-energy gaming hot spots include Casino del Mar in Renaissance La Concha Resort with tables, slot machines and high-limit lounges, Casino Del Sol at Courtyard Isla Verde Beach Resort and Stellaris Casino at the San Juan Marriott with bingo and Latin dancing in the Red Coral Lounge. On the southern coast, casinos at the Holiday Inn Ponce, Ponce Hilton and the Ponce Plaza invite with big payouts, Mayaguez Resort and Casino  is primo for stays and plays and in the northern coastal valley, the first dice rolls at 6 am at the Bayamon Casino. In the Hyatt Place Manati, Casino Atlántico is close to the Premium Outlets shopping center for those looking to spend their winnings.

St. Maarten Princess Casino in St. Maarten is poular for table games and slots. Photo Credit Martha Jane Marsden

St. Maarten is well on its way to recovery following last year’s storms with the reopening of many of the 14 casinos on the Dutch side of the dual nation island (there are no casinos on the French side). Fan favorites include Rouge Noir popular with cruise shippers, Tropicana on the south side of Cole Bay, Paradise Plaza in Simpson Bay with slots and sports betting, Hollywood Casino also in Simpson Bay and the Princess Casino at Port de Plaisance with table games and coinless slot machines. In the capital city Phillipsburg, Beach Plaza is fun on Front Street and Jump Up Casino is close to the cruise pier.

Sun, Sea and Slots

Aruba Stellaris Casino roulette. Photo Credit Aruba Marriott

Aruba is a full house with a dozen casinos island-wide, most of them inside the high-rise resorts that front Palm Beach. On the less-traveled Eagle Beach, there’s Alhambra Casino near the Divi Resort and in Oranjestad, Renaissance Aruba comes with two casinos: Crystal Casino that is next door to the Louis Vuitton boutique and Seaport billed as the only waterfront casino on the island. The largest casino, Stellaris at the Aruba Marriott on Palm Beach, bustles day and night with 500 slots and the only Wheel of Fortune game on the island. Also wooing the gaming crowd; Hilton Aruba is dreamy with starlit ceilings and Hyatt Regency where wins are celebrated with a hand-rolled cigar and a shot on the rocks.

Aruba Hyatt Regency Aruba Aerial. Photo Credit Aruba Hyatt Regency

Gambling in the Dominican Republic is as much a part of a vacation as salsa lessons on the beach and a frosty mug of Presidente beer.  Laying claim to more casinos than in any other country in the Caribbean, there are 18 just in Punta Cana (120-plus in the country) from the kitsch at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe to the largest at the Hard Rock Hotel. In Santo Domingo, casinos include the Jaragua Renaissance on the picturesque Malecón boardwalk and northwest of Puerto Plata; Ocean World Casino offers live entertainment, table games and a sports book. As a bonus to gamblers, many casinos accept bets in U.S. dollars or Dominican pesos with winnings paid out in the currency of the wager.

Roll the Dice

Bahamas Baha Mar Casino is the Caribbean’s largest. Photo Credit Baha Mar Resort

Billed as the Caribbean’s largest, Baha Mar Casino in Nassau is also the newest coming in at 100,000 square-feet of table games like black jack, roulette, baccarat and craps, Baha Mar Sports Book and restaurants and bars throughout the casino floor. Chic with Bahamas -inspired design complimented by natural daylight and pool and ocean views, butler service is available in the high-limit betting salons.

Bahamas Atlantis Casino Temple of the Sun. Photo Credit Atlantis Paradise Island

On Paradise Island, Atlantis Casino at the gargantuan Atlantis Paradise Island Resort ups the ante with a clever player-tracking system that allows guests to insert their room key into a slot machine or present it at a table for a chance to win big prizes. Along with eye-catching sculptures created by glass artist Dale Chihuly, the casino invites with baccarat, poker, roulette and blackjack, more than 700 slot machines and a sports book. “Our gaming experience called Salon Privé caters to the elite casino customer and includes high-limit slot machines and ultra-private gaming rooms,” said Michael Sacco, chief gaming officer. For players looking to up their game, gratis lessons are offered and for those who plan ahead, $50K Blackjack Tournament is on the calendar for March 24.

Spin the Wheel

Curacao Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino. Photo Credit Renaissance Resorts

In Curacao where servers dress up as though they were a part of a carnival parade, Carnaval Casino keeps the theme in the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino with gaming until 4 a.m. The largest hotel casino on the island, Carnaval features 375 slots, plus blackjack and three-card poker tables. For those taking baby steps, touch screen keno machines take penny bets. Other haunts where you’ll find Lady Luck include the Trupial Inn in the financial district, Hill Ross Casino that sweetens the pot with live bands and the Diamond Beach Casino convenient for guests at the Papagayo Beach Resort. Beach lovers like the tables at the Curaçao Casino at the seaside Hilton Curacao and for fans of sports betting, there are plenty of payoffs in the blue and green Casino Awasa in the Otrobanda Hotel on the other side of the Queen Emma bridge from Willemstad.

St. Kitts Marriott Royal Beach Casino is a popular place for tourists. Photo Credit St. Kitts Marriott

In the lobby of the beachfront St. Kitts Marriott Resort, Royal Beach Casino is the biggest casino on the island and the only one with a licensed sportsbook. Open to guests and non-guests, the casino has hundreds of slots like the crowd-pleasing Blazing 7’s and Triple Lucky Sevens, table games and thirteen screens for keeping score of big league sports. For high-rollers, Sky Ultra Lounge is elegant and for night owls who like to roll the dice and spin the wheel, the casino stays open to 4 a.m., Friday and Saturday (2 a.m. all other nights). Games with generous payouts include Sunday Night Bingo and Joker’s Wild every Wednesday in the summer.


Lucky In Love: Caribbean Casinos