Gambling in Costa Rica

A friend of mine, who used to work in San Jose, emphasized not only did everybody dress very casually, but if I dressed up, I would be a target to get robbed in downtown San Jose. Our team of event planners are here to assist you with any aspect of your special casino event including event planning details. The tables themselves are generally old. It is not a language issue, as they don't communicate in Spanish either. Toll Free - The second floor is mainly slots with a larger bar, including a pool table. The six table games consisted of five pai gow poker tables and one canasta.

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While the Casino del Rey has a respectable casino with six table games and slots, I don't think many people go there to gamble. Much of the square footage is divided between two bars, the hotel lobby, and a common-space area with tables and chairs. When I was there on a Friday night, about 10 PM, the place was teeming with prostitutes. The ratio of working girls to men was about 2 to 1.

I would estimate there were roughly of them crowded into this small venue. Despite their overwhelming numbers, they were well-behaved and didn't bother me, except the usual attempts to make eye contact, which I'm terrible at avoiding.

As if anyone cares, the table games offered are rummy 3 tables , Caribbean Stud Poker 2 tables and roulette. As mentioned in the video poker section above, there is a It wouldn't surprise me if lots of other gringos make the same claim, as the little town is inundated by tourists.

You'll find no shortage of bars, souvenir shops and surfing outfitters. There are three casinos in the greater Jaco area, and each are unique in terms of location, clientele and atmosphere. Following are the details: Cocal The Cocal is centrally located in Jaco, right on the beach. Few streets in Jaco have names, including the one the Cocal is on, so I can't give you an intersection. In the unlikely event you have trouble finding it, I'm sure every cab driver in town and there are lots of them goes there all the time.

The Cocal hotel looks like a nice place with lots of rooms and amenities. Compared to the size of the hotel, the casino is small and very crowded with tourists.

The main section is for table games with a smaller section for slots. There is also a small bar. The second floor has two live poker tables. Games offered at the Cocal are rummy 4 tables , roulette and Caribbean Stud Poker tute. The slot machine area had about 30 machines. The casino was crowded and noisy with tourists. I played rummy for about an hour, and I had one of the rudest dealers I've ever encountered in my 25 years of casino gambling. A friend of mine with me said to the dealer something to the effect of, "What's your problem?

We all left the table at that time, but lingered around the bar. Another friend of mine tried to order a drink at the bar, but the bartender said our entire group was banned, so we all left en route to the Amapola casino, which I'll get to soon. I've never been kicked out of a casino in my life, and I wanted to test if I really was. So, about two hours later, I returned to the same irritable dealer. He gave me the stink eye, but nobody stopped me from playing.

You'll find some prostitutes lingering around the bar and slot machine area at The Cocal. However, that is nothing compared to what awaits you if you depart via the door in the slot machine room, leading to the swimming pool and a much larger bar. This area is a cornucopia of prostitutes. Much like the Casino del Rey, the ratio is about two working girls to every guy. Unlike the Casino del Rey, these girls are pretty aggressive and don't mind initiating a conversation and, occasionally, touching men within arm's reach.

Maybe I was there on a slow night a Monday , but they all seemed pretty desperate for business. Close to the entrance is the Marriott hotel and casino. The casino is the usual size for a Costa Rican casino: However, as you would expect of a Marriott, it is much more clean and modern.

Unfortunately for them, at least the two times I was there, the place was almost empty. Normally I don't socialize with strangers at the table, but there is something that just isn't fun about playing in an empty casino. If I ran the place, I would consider hiring some shills to act as players, just to get the energy level up. The Marriott deserves a "shame on you" for their awful Rummy rules.

Normally rummy carries a high house edge anyway, compared to blackjack, of 1. However, the Marriott changes the standard rules to prohibit surrender and re-splitting aces, as well as hitting a soft This increases the house edge to 1.

I encountered no other casino in Costa Rica offering anything close to such terrible rules in rummy. Apparently due to its distance from everything, both the casino and hotel were very quiet during my brief visit. Again, most streets in Costa Rica aren't named, but there are three roads leading into Jaco from highway 34, and the Amapola is off the southernmost one. Be warned that lots of other websites refer to the casino at the Amapola as the "Jazz Casino.

When I finally found the place the next day, thanks to a taxi driver and the name of the hotel. I didn't see signage anywhere indicating any particular name of the casino. This may be the smallest casino I found in Costa Rica. As I recall, there were three or four table games. The number of table game players when I entered was zero.

My entourage and I indicated we wanted to play blackjack, so a dealer was summoned and the game was opened for us. The first thing I noticed was the felt was from some other casino I've never heard of, and the game was dealt with store-bought Bicycle playing cards. I might add that it looked like they hadn't replaced the cards in ages. You might think they would be happy for the business, but the dealer and supervisor looked indifferent.

At least a cocktail waitress came by quickly. I asked for a margarita, which was awful. The bartender probably had no idea how to make one. Upon thinking about it further, I can't recall ever seeing margaritas on a menu in Costa Rica.

It just goes to show that there are big differences between the various Latin American countries. The one thing they have in common is they were all conquered by Spain.

Aside from the table games, the Amapola had a small number of slots, about 25, and a bar. The casino had lots of floor space relative to the number of games.

Between that and the lack of customers, there is no shortage of elbow room. If you're in Jaco, and the Cocal is too much for you, then the Amapola is the degree opposite. Amapola web site Prostitution Since the vast majority of my readership is male, I imagine some may be wondering more about the prostitution business in Costa Rica, which is hard not to address when writing about the casinos in that country.

Let me preface this section by saying that this information comes mostly second-hand from American men I spoke to that live in Costa Rica and are familiar with the profession. In Costa Rica, prostitution is legal and practiced openly. The Lonely Planet guidebook says, "Female prostitutes are required to register and receive regular medical checkups. When I pressed the issue, they said it was an urban legend. On a zero to ten attractiveness scale, the prostitutes you're likely to see in the casinos and bars tend to range from a 5 to 8.

The median age seems to be about I asked my more-knowledgeable male companions about the women in the 9 to 10 range. What I was told is they tend to work for private escort services.

Of course, you can expect to pay more if you go that route. I'm told this is very negotiable. Given the high ratio of working girls to men I encountered, I would assume the men have the bargaining power. I also touched on this topic in my February blog entry about Panama. If forced to compare, you'll find almost exclusively Colombian women in that profession in Panama.

This means full-figured women, often artificially. If forced, I think the working girls in Panama, especially as found at the Veneto casino, were more attractive. In my articles on Panama, I wrote that many young women actually played at the tables for low stakes, hustling male players for handouts.

I never once encountered this in Costa Rica. On one occasion, at the Casino del Rey, I noticed another male player invite a working girl to sit down at Rummy table with him. This lasted about one minute before the floor supervisor made her leave, above the apparent objections of her new companion. Finally, be warned about what appear to be women who work the street corners.

They are not women. However, I have to give them credit for doing an outstanding job of looking female, at least from a distance. That is about as far as I can take that topic. My apologies to what few women readers I have for being so objective, but these are the kinds of things I know many of my male readers want to know.

Conclusion In conclusion, I can't say that I was terribly impressed with the casino scene in Costa Rica. There are a lot of great things about the country, but gambling isn't one of them.

If you like American-style casinos, you will be a lot happier in Panama. However, if you're planning a trip to Costa Rica anyway, and enjoy gambling, hopefully this article will help you know what to expect, and will lower your expectations appropriately. Outside Links Spanish translation of this article. Wizard of Odds uses cookies, this enables us to provide you with a personalised experience.

More Info Got It! Enter your email address below to subscribe to our weekly newsletter along with other special announcements from The Wizard of Odds! The Wizard of Odds. However, unlike the large Vegas-style casinos in neighboring Panama, the casinos in Costa Rica are usually a small appendage to a much larger hotel.

Most tourists come to Costa Rica for one of two reasons: Evidently, neither group has much interest in gambling. However, for the few visitors who are interested, I traveled there in March , in part to report on the casino scene.

This blog entry reports on my findings. General Information Casinos are definitely understated in Costa Rica. The typical casino has about six table games and 50 slot machines. Signage tends to be small, and sometimes you have to walk through the hotel lobby to get to the casino. The Sheldon Adelson philosophy, "We are a hotel with a casino, not a casino with a hotel," seems to be the order of the day in Costa Rica.

Once inside, you should expect a quiet atmosphere where you can play in peace. Atmosphere music will be soft or nonexistent.

Most of the time, the casinos are sparsely attended. Most table games will be unmanned, and many that are manned have no players. Approximately only ten percent of the slots are being played at any given time. Of course, one can expect bigger crowds depending on the time and day of the week, as anywhere. Drink service is generally infrequent and undependable for players. Nonalcoholic drinks are free, but those with alcohol will be charged at bar prices, which can be high.

In Costa Rica, as in Panama, smoking is strictly prohibited in public places, including bars and casinos. As a nonsmoker, this is a public policy I applaud. While every casino is more or less the same in the above respects, the general ambiance is different depending on the casino location and policy on prostitution.

Some casinos welcome the working girls, and others apparently want nothing to do with them. For the casinos that welcome prostitutes, you can expect hoards of them.

They will be everywhere — at the bars, sitting at the slots, walking about or just standing. If you don't want to be bothered by them, then the number one rule is to avoid making eye contact. If they talk or whistle at you, just ignore them. Once you are actually gambling, there seems to be an understanding between the girls and casino management that active players are not to be bothered. If you don't want to rub against that at all, literally and figuratively, then be careful to choose a casino that is not a magnet for that profession.

Table Games For some reason, the tables used in Costa Rica are the big tables you also find in Macau. I like these better, as there is more elbow room and inlaid holes to put drinks. The tables themselves are generally old. I've noticed the cloths are often from some other casinos elsewhere in the world. The dealers, all of whom seem to be male, are invariably not interactive and are sometimes outright rude. Don't expect a greeting when you sit down or a good-bye when you leave. It is not a language issue, as they don't communicate in Spanish either.

If you play to gamble, you will get that. If you play for the social experience, then don't expect the dealer to help with it. To be honest, I felt some dealers had anti-gringo racism. As far as I saw, every table is stocked with chips in both U. They seem to be careful with the colors and texture of the chips, so no two currencies will look similar. The rate has been artificially maintained by Costa Rica since early Caring Hospitable Bingo Hall, very honest and super friendly and the patrons at this place look of a class.

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