Want to play your luck in Costa Rica? Casinos, horse racing and dog racing are popular for travelers and locals alike to bet their odds and have a great time. Casinos are most popular in large cities and regions that are most frequently visited, and many are located within hotels or major resorts. There are about 40 different venues in 18 cities throughout the country, with the largest concentration near San Jose, where there are a whopping 18 casinos to play your cards right.
What to expect at a casino
Casino gambling is legal in Costa Rica, but there are not too many located throughout the country. And casinos are much different than one may find in places like Las Vegas. Generally, a casino will have about six table games and 50 slot machines. The atmosphere is pretty quiet so people can focus on their games throughout the night, and sometimes background music is played softly, but not always. Casinos here are not jam-packed, so it is easy to walk around and explore the place. Additionally, many table games will be unmanned, and those that are will may not have many players.
One of the most popular games at casinos in Costa Rica is 21, otherwise known as Rummy. This game is very similar to blackjack with a Tico twist on the rules you may be familiar with:
Similar to blackjack, your goal is to get to 21, or as close to 21 as possible without going over. Players first get two cards with face cards worth 10 and aces 11, and players may ask the dealer to increase their card count based on what is in front of them. Now, the Tico twist: If the first three cards are the same suit, three of a kind or a straight, the player has a rummy (similar to the popular game in America) and gets paid out double, unless the three cards add up to 21 then it usually pays 5 times your bet! The other rule is if a player gets 21 on deal and the dealer gets 21 with any amount of cards then it is a push.
Choose Casinos by Region
You'll find slot machines, table games and other traditional gambling options that you typically find in casinos, but you'll also find a couple of games that are native, including Caribbean stud poker or Tute as it is called in Costa Rica, pai gow poker, and rummy blackjack. Roulette is also popular, except in Costa Rica, numbers are pulled from a lottery tumbler instead of a roulette wheel.
If you'd like to make a weekend of slot machines and card tables, then you should probably have a home base in San Jose to make the most out of it. While the bright lights and vibrant casinos here are thrilling, they are much more laid back than those found in places like Las Vegas. No need to get dressed to the nine to have a great time here. Plus if you win it big, San Jose is home to outstanding nightlife that makes it easy to party well into the wee hours.