Costa Rica is not Las Vegas, Jersey City or Macau; however, if you are looking for a scene which includes drinking, casinos and Costa Rican women, it could very well be your best option.
Gambling in Costa Rica may not be all the hype like it is in other places in the world, but it is popular among those who enjoy the sport and definitely worth experiencing. In Costa Rica, most people play precisely for the sport and not to chat with the dealers or other players. You can expect tables to be pretty empty except for weekends and late nights. Even when the casino is full, most people do not socialize.
Tables tend to be on the older side and many have cloths from casinos in other parts of the world. All card decks are new however and chips are in good condition. Almost every table in Costa Rica is stocked with chips in both US dollars and Costa Rican Colones. Colors and textures for the chips are fairly different so that the two will not be confused. Dealers are very detailed in giving out chips, but it is always a good idea to double check and count along.
Always ask for the current rate before exchanging money or just use your home currency while gambling in Costa Rica. Table limits are lower than those you will find in the US. In the local currency, most tables have a 1,000 colones minimum. This is about $2. The minimum for US dollars is higher, usually beginning around $5. Some more fancy casinos especially those on the beach tend to have higher minimums but in general it is easy to start with a small amount and work your way up from there.
Casinos are not allowed to be open 24 hours a day by law. Each casino has different hours, most operating from 5pm-2am. There are some more popular ones that are open 11am-4am but the general rule is they have to close at least 6 hours a day. Non-alcoholic drinks are served for free although service is rare and alcoholic drinks tend to be more expensive than in other places in the country. Players must be over 18 and minors are not allowed to enter the casinos.
The most popular card game in Costa Rica is rummy. This is a variation of commonly played blackjack and can also be called 21 in some parts of the country. Although the rules change a bit, it is easy to get the hang of. Other common games are roulette/canasta, pai gow poker and Caribbean Stud Poker. There are many tournaments in Costa Rica especially for Poker and some of the country’s best players even gamble at the international level.
Popular Casinos in San Jose:
San Jose is a small city that never sleeps and with the local Casinos you won’t have to either. The bright lights of the city will lead you to some of the country’s best table games in over 11 casinos in the city. Consider staying in a hotel with a casino.