For many years after Aruba's first casino opened in 1959, gambling was the island's major attraction (next to the beaches, of course). Today, Aruba boasts a dozen gambling venues, most of them casually elegant. Table games such as baccarat, blackjack, poker, roulette, and craps usually start in the afternoon or early evening; slot machines can usually be played in the morning. Bingo, another diversion, starts in the afternoon at some places, in the evening at others. The action goes on as long as there's a crowd, usually until 2, 3, or 4am. The Crystal Casino as well as the Seaport Casino in downtown Oranjestad are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All big hotels on the High-Rise strip have a casino open to guests and nonguests alike. While the minimum age for entry is 18, this rule is only loosely enforced. Because smoking is allowed and ventilation is lacking, nearly all casinos have a heavy smell of smoke that will quickly permeate your hair, clothes, and lungs. As is the case elsewhere, you can order drinks at no charge from the circulating waiters, but they will only bring your order if you are diligently feeding the slot machines or placing your bets.
Located in downtown Oranjestad at the Renaissance Aruba Resort, the Crystal Casino, L.G. Smith Blvd. 82 (tel. 297/583-6000), is Aruba's only 24-hour casino featuring round-the-clock table action. More elegant than most gaming venues on the island, the Crystal boasts Austrian crystal chandeliers, gold-leaf columns, ornate moldings, Spanish mirrors, and Italian marble and brass. The 1,393-sq.-m (14,994-sq.-ft.) parlor features 373 slot machines, bingo, and tables for roulette, craps, baccarat, blackjack, Caribbean stud poker, and Texas hold 'em.
The Seaport Casino, L.G. Smith Blvd. 9 (tel. 297/583-6000), also part of the Renaissance Marketplace in downtown Oranjestad, is Aruba's only waterfront casino. The casual 743-sq.-m (7,998-sq.-ft.) emporium fits in well with the surrounding shopping mall; you might think it's just another store. Besides more than 400 slot machines, the casino features tables for blackjack, roulette, and Caribbean stud poker. In a sequestered area, the race and sports book boasts a satellite linkup and wagering based on Las Vegas odds. Most major sporting events are covered. The daily 1pm bingo games are especially popular. Slot machines are available from 10am to 4am; tables are open from 6pm to 4am.
The Alhambra Casino, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 47, Manchebo Beach (tel. 297/583-5000; www.casinoalhambra.com), is one of the only casinos in the Low-Rise area. After a 2011 renovation, the atmosphere remains casual. The 929-sq.-m (10,000-sq.-ft.) casino features 300-plus slots and tables for Caribbean stud poker, three-card poker, craps, blackjack, Let It Ride, and roulette, with a range of wagering minimums. Slots open at 10am; tables start business at 6pm. Year-round, you can play into the early morning, usually 4am. Bingo starts at 1pm on Thursday and Saturday.
The Occidental Grand Casino at the Occidental Grand Aruba, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 83, Palm Beach (tel. 297/586-4500), opens daily at noon for slot action; table games are available after 5pm. As long as folks are making wagers, the casino stays open until 4am. You can play at one of the 300-plus slot machines or play craps, blackjack, roulette, poker, or Texas hold 'em at the tables. There's live entertainment most weekend nights as well.
The Casino at the Radisson, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 81, Palm Beach (tel. 297/586-6555), twinkles with thousands of lights and looms over 1,300 sq. m (13,993 sq. ft.) of space. The 235 slots open at noon, while tables for blackjack, roulette, and craps (as well as the live poker room featuring Caribbean stud, three card, Texas hold 'em, seven-card stud, and Let It Ride) open at 4pm in the high season, at 5pm otherwise. The action lasts until 4am daily. The bar features big-screen TVs tuned to sporting events, and there's live music Wednesday through Saturday.
The Hyatt's Copacabana Casino, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 85, Palm Beach (tel. 297/586-1234, ext. 4583; www.hyattcasinoaruba.com), has many dark-wood columns, Art Deco-style chandeliers, and stone walls. It's certainly one of Aruba's more elegantly subdued gambling venues. The 21 tables feature craps, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and Caribbean stud poker. The 1,115-sq.-m (12,000-sq.-ft.) facility also has more than 260 slot machines. Live bands play Latin or popular American music from an alcove above the bar on Thursday to Sunday evenings. Slots and tables open at noon and the action lasts until 4am.
The Holiday Inn's busy Excelsior Casino, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 230, Palm Beach (tel. 866/358-6518 or 297/586-7777; www.excelsiorcasino.com), has plenty of slots, plus tables for blackjack, craps, roulette, Let It Ride, and Caribbean stud poker (this popular game originated at the Excelsior in 1988). It's the only Aruban casino besides the Seaport Casino to offer a horse race and sports book with live simulcasts. Slots are available at 8am, sports book from noon to 8pm, and tables are ready for play from noon to 3 or 4am. Daily bingo games fill the house at 3:30pm on weekdays and 12:30pm on weekends. There's an ATM next to the cashier, a bar, and live entertainment.
The Stellaris Casino, at the Marriott, L.G. Smith Blvd. 101, Palm Beach (tel. 297/586-9000; www.stellariscasino.com), hums with the sound of slot machines from 10am, but the real buzz begins after noon, when the tables open and the crowd thickens. The 500 slots have all been updated and are computerized and share floor space with the islands only Sports gaming kiosks, and "Deal or No Deal," and "Wheel of Fortune" slots. The 32 game tables include blackjack, craps, Caribbean stud poker, roulette, and Let It Ride. The live band can be heard throughout the 1,672-sq.-m (17,997-sq.-ft.) casino, even through the ubiquitous cloud of cigarette and cigar smoke.
The newest casino at press time is Cool Casino (tel. 297/528-0993; www.coolcasinogaming.com) at the Riu Palace. In keeping with the opulent, turn-of-the-20th-century style hotel lobby, this lavish casino features state-of-the-art video poker and slot machines -- meaning that all slots are coinless. Slots open at 10am, and table games start at 2pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.