Costa Rica gambling is not only legal, but a growing industry as well. In Costa Rica you’ll be able to try your luck at roulette, test your skills in Texas hold’em, and enjoy a nice game of blackjack. A side industry to casinos is the sports book, where you can enjoy hot wings, have a drink and bet on your favorite sports team, while you see the game on giant screens. The government itself runs bets, bingos and lottery through the Junta de Protección Social, the organization in charge of Costa Rica legal gaming. The JPS roughly translated is the Committee for Social Protection, an organization that manages hospitals, cemeteries, welfare homes, as well as several other welfare programs and organizes raffles, bingos and lotteries to raise money for different organizations such as old persons’ homes, handicapped persons, social medicine, abandoned children and more. The National lottery is produced under strict security measures that strive to guarantee that the client will acquire a high quality ticket with all the different safety controls so that their chances of winning are clear and that the ticket is sound. Watermarks are one of the safety measures and tickets should be checked so they contain said mark. Another safety measure is the invisible UV ink, which becomes clear when the ticket is exposed to blacklight, and a strong ink that is used that goes through the paper and can be seen from the back. The National Lotery, the popular lottery, the “tiempos”, the instant lottery, electronic lottery and sports betting are the JPS’s official Costa Rica gambling ventures.
Gambling in Costa Rica casinos is a different experience than Vegas, that’s for sure. The small size of the casinos, the warmth of the staff and the smaller scale operations make Costa Rica sport books and casinos feel intimate and distinct. Most Casinos outside San Jose are part of hotels and resorts, and with a minimum bet of 500 colones (about 1USD as of march 2006). The most popular game in Costa Rica is the Costa Rica version of BlackJack. After receiving two cards, you can request another or stay with the two cards. The difference with Vegas BlackJack is that if your first three cards are equal or you have three consecutive cards of the same suite, you have a rummy and get paid double. If the three equal cards are three sevens, you get a bonus on top of that. But if you have 21 with two cards, or receive 5 cards without going over 21 you do not get paid double. The Costa Rican version of roulette uses a cage with numbered balls instead of a spinning wheel, for a game reminiscent of bingo. If you like card games, there are plenty of Costa Rican games you can learn and play for hours of fun.
Another gambling venture in Costa Rica is the Sport book or online casinos. These “virtual” casinos or books are located on the internet and wagers are placed through phonecalls, the only difference is that the people taking your calls are living in tropical Costa Rica. Many entertainment industries in gaming, gambling, sports wagers and casinos have established their operation centers in Costa Rica, taking advantage of the educated bilingual population. In Costa Rica, online poker tournaments, wagers on who will win Survivor or who will take the NFL championship are all organized and arranged for you to participate from the comfort of your own home. Whether you come to Costa Rica or you decide to visit virtually, internet poker, sport book wagers and legal gambling are some options you may wish to explore.