News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. April 12, 2018: We’ve seen a lot of global change in the first two decades of the 21st century, but one notable trend has been a huge boom in tourism in South and Central America. With vast unexplored areas, incredible cultures and of course some of the best beaches and landscapes on the planet, it’s no surprise that this part of the world is a prime tourist hot-spot, with the tourism revenue reportedly close to $400 billion in 2015.
The continent is a dream destination for travelers and backpackers who want to explore the rain forests of the Amazon or trek the Andes Mountains that form the spine of South America. On top of this, the general good weather and clear blue oceans make resorts in the likes of Mexico, Brazil and in the Caribbean the perfect place for families and couples seeking sun.
What you might not be aware of however, is the fact that Latin America has some ideal places for a casino holiday, too.
Naturally, Las Vegas, Macau and Monaco are the most recognisable locations for a holiday spiced up with a bit of gambling, but there are plenty of countries in the Southern Americas that can provide the perfect casino break.
Gaming in Latin America is a lot different to the Western world, but it’s hard to generalize it entirely, as gambling laws vary so wildly across the continent. Generally, gaming is popular on the continent. As well as providing a rich source of entertainment, gaming is also used for a lot of other things, from educational purposes to social activism, according to Phillip Penix-Tadsen in his book Cultural Code.
When it comes to gambling, Argentina is probably the best place to gamble because of its combination of lax local laws and a nationwide culture that celebrates gambling rather than demonises it.
We’ve profiled some of the best destinations across the continent, so you can either fit in some gambling on your dream holiday, or even plan an entire adventure around some of the best casinos in Latin America.
Argentina’s successful gambling industry rest on its high population (43 million) and laid back gambling laws, which filters down to a relaxed and pleasant gambling culture. For this reason, it’s a haven for both local and international gamblers.
With a total of 79 casinos, Argentina easily tops the list as one of the premier gambling destinations not only in Latin America, but the entire Southern Hemisphere. With relaxed gaming laws compared to some of its neighbours, visitors can enjoy the big casino experience, as well as a more local and friendly experience in establishments like bingo rooms and amusement arcades filled with slot machines. The capital, Buenos Aires, has several large, resort-style casinos including the Casino Buenos Aires – a huge entertainment complex built in 1999 that provides over 40,000 square metres of casino floor space.
If you’re looking for a really impressive casino, however, you’ll need to head north to the neighbourhood of Tigre to the Trilenium Casino, the largest in South America and one of the best on the continent. As well as a massive range of slot games, visitors can enjoy both types of roulette wheel, Texas Hold ‘Em poker, blackjack, and even Baccarat, known locally of course as Punto Banco.
For a really mind-blowing casino experience, you’ll need to leave BA and head to Rosario, where you’ll find the City Center Rosario casino and resort. This award-winning casino combines the grandeur of Vegas with Rosario’s famous carnival atmosphere – a guaranteed cocktail of fun for any attendee.
As well as incredible scenery, fantastic food including the best steaks in the world, and Tango dancing around every corner, Argentina and especially Buenos Aires is one of the most fun spots in Latin America for a gambling holiday, with such a variety of games and casinos to choose from.
While gambling is unlicensed in Peru for the most part, it hasn’t stopped it emerging as a popular pastime in the country over the past two decades.
From the arid highlands near Lake Titicaca to the stunning lost city of Machu Picchu in the mountains on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, Peru is a country for true adventurers and thrill seekers. However, you’ll likely need to travel through the capital city of Lima to get to these wild destinations, and it’s here that visitors can enjoy a fun night of gambling before they head out to the countryside.
The Atlantic City Casino (which actually sits fairly close to the Pacific) rivals casinos in Las Vegas in terms of size and quality, with poker, blackjack and roulette tables and well over 500 of the latest slot and video games spread across its 3000m2 gaming area. It’s likely one of the most glitzy casinos you’ll ever visit, with hundreds of lights and a bustling atmosphere rivalling anything Vegas can offer. But despite its gargantuan size, the vibe here is friendly and intimate.
One of the best parts of the Atlantic City Casino is the huge selection of restaurants, serving up everything from American and international dishes to local cuisine that’ll have your taste buds tingling while you’re placing your bets.
Gambling in Brazil is illegal, but it doesn’t stop it from happening. It flourishes in underground bingo houses and casinos that operate illegally – and as such, locals aren’t vocal in their love for gambling.
Currently, Brazil is deciding on how the future of gambling will look. Gamblers can enjoy betting on horse racing, sports, and state run lotteries as well as bingo, but there is a distinct lack of major casinos either in major cities or near the beautiful beach resorts that line the Atlantic coast. Some larger hotels do offer limited table games, but the law could well change in 2018 to make casino gaming and gambling in general more regulated than it currently is.
In contrast, gambling is legal in the UK, but the industry is highly regulated and casino operators must follow strict guidelines around age verifications, fair play and sources of funds – to promote responsible gambling and discourage practises such as money laundering. Despite this regulation, casinos both land-based and online have flourished – demonstrating how other countries can keep both casinos and players happy within a regulated framework. One example of a highly successful operator in the UK is this casino online.
Gambling in Mexico goes back to the time of the Aztec Empire. It’s been an active part of Mexican culture since the French tried to colonize the country in the 19th century, and because of this the gambling scene is Mexico is popular nationwide.
The beach resorts of Acapulco and Cancun are some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, so it’s no surprise that the biggest casinos are found nearby. Gambling is completely legal in Mexico, and gamblers can visit large, American-style casinos like the Dubai Palace and the PlayCity casino in Cancun. As well as having slots and table games plenty, there’s the option to bet on the latest international sports and horse races, too.
For travellers who find themselves in Monterrey, however, this is something of a gambler’s paradise with over 15 casinos and various other gambling establishments dotted around the city. The Casino de Monterrey and the Jubilee Casino are the biggest and probably best in the city, but travellers who wish to gamble should take precautions, especially when it comes to handling large sums of cash or chips. While Mexico is largely safe in tourist areas, it does have problems with gangs and robberies, so it would be wise to play games in a low-key manner and avoid drawing too much attention to big wins.
Although these main tourist hotspots are more than perfect for a gambling holiday, there are a few notable mentions, too. Chile is a superb country that is equally as rugged and exciting as the others on this list, and a trip there wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Montecello Grand Casino, a huge resort and complex not far for the beach. Our other ‘close but no cigar’ option is the Veneto in Panama. It’s a stunning casino in Panama City that isn’t too far from the beach – the perfect option for sightseers who fancy a quick dip before hitting the casino floor.
Latin America is certainly a unique place to visit, and you’ll certainly find plenty of unique gambling experiences along the way, too.