Casinos in Cancun are a relatively new addition to the endless list of things to occupy your time here in the Mexican Caribbean.
For years local gambling laws prevented casinos from opening up in Cancun and various ‘get a rounds’ were proposed. These included an ambitious project to float a gambling ship located off the Cancun coast, but actually far enough away to be classed as International waters where the local laws did not apply.
However, despite being talked of for years nothing ever came of it. Cancun remained a casino free zone, with the exception of Play City Casino at Plaza Kukulcan. Play City Casino was hardly worthy of the name though in my opinion. Just a few low value slot machines and certainly no real casino games such as poker, blackjack or roulette.
Around 2010 something changed and Casinos started appearing in and around the Cancun area, and it seemed as each one opened it became bigger and grander than the last. I don’t know what happened to effect this change, maybe there was a change in the law or maybe it was decided to just not enforce it any more. But one thing is for certain, it looks as if Casinos in Cancun are here to stay.
The first proper Cancun Casino to open was Casino Palace on Tulum Avenue downtown, a little North of Plaza Las Americas. The facility is spread over two floors with slots and televised sporting events occupying the lower floor. Upstairs is a rather chic games room where roulette, blackjack and poker can be played. However, at the time of my one and only visit, there were no real cards and no actual roulette tables. Instead the games are played via sophisticated video machines. You are seated with other players and the games are as authentic as they could possibly be via video machines but there are no live dealers as such. You purchase your “chips” as paper credits from the cashier and enter the numbers into the machine to receive your electronic chips. Hostesses are on hand to serve complementary drinks to players, for those who are just watching and enjoying the atmosphere drinks may be purchased.
The Dubai Palace Casino was the next Cancun casino to open in June 2010. The Dubai Palace is located again on Ave Tulum heading out of town towards the airport and occupies the lot that was previously Home Depot. Occupying 100,000 square feet the Dubai Palace is Cancun’s largest casino and is home to over 450 slot machines featuring familiar brands such as Williams, Nova Star and Bally.
The VIP room is equipped with various computerized games such as Blackjack, Roulette and Texas Holdem. Again the style of play is to pre purchase your credits with the cashier, this time you exchange cash for a debit card which you then subsequently enter into the machines. Credits and debits are automatcially added or subtracted from the card as you play. English speaking staff are always at hand and the Dubai is a popular location for tourists who will enjoy the buffet available from morning until midnight, with three menu changes throughout the day offering 11 different selections per meal with drinks and desert too.
In December 2010 Cancun’s first hotel zone casino opened under none other than the famous Playboy brand. Playboy Club Cancun is situated at Km 3.5 close to Temptation Resort and Spa and occupies the building that used to be Caliente Sportsbook throughout the prior 10 years or so. As it’s reputation suggests the Playboy club is upscale, modern and attracts the well to do locals of Cancun in addition to tourists. One disappointing aspect of Playboy Cancun is that there is a membership fee and at 200 pesos (around $18USD) this is quite expensive for a casual visitor although not such bad of a deal for a frequent patron. Drinks are also expensive at 60 pesos ($5) for a beer and are not complementary for players. What sets Playboy apart from the rest though, is that here you will find real live games with dealers and of course, Playboy bunnies – Latina style! The lower area at Playboy Cancun hosts TV screens showing live sports events, the usual slots, around 6 blackjack tables and 1 each of roulette and craps. The upper floor also has slots and poker tables.
Cancun is not Vegas and hopefully it never will be, to me there is far too much to see, do and enjoy in Cancun than to while away those precious hours gambling. However, for those that do enjoy the experience then you should be able to find a casino in Cancun that more than meets your needs.