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Casinos in Aruba

Why people gamble in casinos?

At one time, gambling was the main reason some tourists came to Aruba. It was the Caribbean Las Vegas. Now, there are many things to keep visitors busy, but the casinos remain popular centers of entertainment. Every Aruba casino is a glitzy display of buzzing activity, humming conversations, and clanging bells.

Aruba's 11 casinos open between 10 am and noon for slot-machine play, and late in the afternoon or early in the evening for game-table play. While dress is casual, most people wear resort-casual closing to the casinos; swimsuits, short shorts, and beach shoes are out of place.

The Crystal Casino, across from the waterfront in Oranjestad, is open 24 hours a day, every day of the week. It's lavishly decorated with marble, brass, and gold leaf, all lighted by dripping-crystal chandeliers. Live entertainment is featured in the main room each evening, and a long-running Latin dance-and-music show is featured in the adjoining Crystal Theatre.

The only casino actually on the waterfront is the Seaport Casino, which is about half the size of the Crystal and located across L.G. Smith Blvd at the Seaport Marketplace. It's a more casual place, with the usual table and slot machines, plus bingo games on Tuesdays and Sundays. Live entertainment is featured Friday and Saturday nights.

The Alhambra Casino and Aladdin Theatre, on Manchebo Beach in the low-rise resort area, is probably the most popular entertainment center on the island. The doorman, dressed as a genie, will shake your hand as you enter and welcome you to his world of Moorish fantasy. Inside, you'll find several bars and a restaurant, as well as more than 300 slot machines and the usual gaming tables. The theater features various acts, including singers, dancers, and impersonators. Shops out back are open until midnight, but the casino doesn't close until about 3 am.

The largest casino on the island is Royal Cabana at La Cabana Beach Resort in the low-rise hotel area. Its Tropicana Showroom has 600 seats and features a popular female impersonator show. The huge casino has the usual slots (more than 300) and gaming tables (more than 30), plus jewelry, cigar, and souvenir shops.

In the high-rise hotel district, all the big resorts have a casino. The Wyndham's Casablanca has a bar and live music. Big-buck gamblers gather in the back and the Cabaret Royal Showroom features a review from Havana. Copacabana at the Hyatt has an impressive Rio theme. Stop in just to look around and put a few coins in the slots, even if you're not a gambler. A live band provides music every evening. The Excelsior at the Holiday Inn draws a crowd on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for 3:30 pm bingo games.

Live music sets a jovial mood at Marriott's Stellaris. You can play the nickel slots or move up to high-rolling craps and blackjack. The Royal Palm at the Allegro hums with the sounds of roulette, Caribbean stud poker, and baccarat, but the pulse quickens nightly when the 10:30 bingo games begin. Many of the Allegro staff are also talented performers who put on various Vegas-quality presentations on the jumbo stage at Las Palmas Showroom.

Things are a bit quieter at the casual Marengue in the Aruba Grand Resort, but you'll still find some action at the slots and game tables until around 2 am. Masquerade at the Radisson, has a popular big-screen TV that shows sports events in the bar. You'll find plenty of company there when a big game is being played. Those who aren't interested in sports can enjoy the tables and slots in the large domed playing area.

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