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Casinos in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean

The issue of casino gambling in Cancun can be confusing for visitors researching their trip

Photo credit: © Dalibor Sevaljevic |
 Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean Casinos

Good news for those headed to the Mexican Caribbean during their next vacation: casino gambling is one again legal in Mexico, though there are some limitations.

Just a few years ago, casinos were banned in Cancun and the rest of Mexico, and had been for some 75 plus years.  Still, there were many locations that managed to find ways around the law, and in recent years more and more casinos were popping up throughout Cancun. 

Brief History of Gambling in Mexico

Gambling has been a part of Mexican culture since the time of the Aztecs, despite the legal indecision over the matter in the last century.  French-style casinos could be found throughout the country during the 19th century, though these facilities fell out of favor after the Mexican Revolution. 

...sports gambling is legal...


In the 1920s, casinos began to gain popularity once more as U.S. citizens began entering the country looking for places to gamble legally.   The casino boom ended once more in 1947 when the government passed a law making gambling illegal.  For years, various states in Mexico had been challenging the ban by opening casinos only to have them immediately shut down by the government.  Then, hotels in Cancun began finding ways around the ban by hosting casino nights in which no actual money exchanged hands.  From there, the boundaries were pushed even further by casinos that opened offering only computerized gambling. 

Slowly, but surely, the government became more and more lax regarding casino regulation, giving in to the idea of millions of dollars of profit that it could be benefiting from.

Casinos in Cancun

Today, the legal aspects surrounding gambling in Cancun remain hazy and are always in flux.  As more and more casinos pop up on the map, though, experts are sure that the rules will continue to relax until casino gambling is fully legal.

As it stands at the beginning of 2013, casino gambling is legal in Cancun and the rest of the Mexican Caribbean; however, there are bans on all card games and roulette.  This includes computerized card games.  This doesn’t prevent tourists from being able to enjoy a night at the slots, or from playing bingo and video bingo, both of which are very popular in Cancun.

Gaming Locations
Name Type Phone Location
Caliente Casino Slot Machine Arcade 52 (664) 682-3110 7.9 mi. (12.6 km) Southeast of Cancun
Caliente Sports Betting Sports Betting Shop -- Downtown Cancun
Casino Palace Bingo Parlor 52 (998) 884-8594 Downtown Cancun
Dubai Palace Casino Slot Machine Arcade -- Downtown Cancun
Playboy Club Cancun Casino -- 6.3 mi. (10.2 km) East-Southeast of Cancun
Playcity Sports Betting Sports Betting Shop -- 7.5 mi. (12.1 km) Southeast of Cancun
Recorcholis Arcade Gambling Arcade -- Downtown Cancun

Take caution when planning your trip to Cancun, and avoid planning your days around the casinos.  Because the regulations regarding licensing could change at any time, it is best to have a Plan B.  With so many other options of activities to participate in, it's easy to forget you ever wanted a casino night included as part of your trip. Days can be filled with tours, shopping, and snorkeling, while checking out the local bars and night clubs are always a fun way to spend an evening.


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