by Adel Awwad
Costa Rica, a small country in Central America, has gained a great deal of popularity, not also as a tourist destination, but also as a retirement paradise. The only type of gambling that is legal in Costa Rica is in casinos, of which there are over 30 in the country, the majority in San Jose, the capital. Costa Rica, or "rich coast" in Spanish, is considered the most politically stable country in Latin America, with perhaps the healthiest climate in the world, and one that welcomes over 1.5 million tourists a year. The abundant flora and fauna, the diverse scenery, and the lively excitement of the Costa Rica casinos have brought in billions of dollars to the economy.
Costa Rica casinos feature all the popular international games including mini baccarat (rummy 9), Let It Ride (tute accion), roulette, blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, craps, pai gow, slots, and video gaming machines. Club Colonial Casino with 45 slots and 12 table games, the Garden Court Fiesta Casino Alajuela with 200 slots and 84 table games, and the Gran Hotel Costa Rica Casino, with 57 slots and five table games, are all located in downtown San Jose. In addition, there are other Costa Rica casinos in small towns and suburbs of San Jose including Cabo Velas Santa Cruz, Cariari, and El Roble. Hotel Coco Verde Casino in Playas del Coco has 20 slots and four table games.
The largest Costa Rica casino is the Irazu Best Western Casino Concorde in La Uruca, with 166 slots and video gaming machines and eight table games. There is a large casino in Goicoechea, a suburb of San Jose, the Radisson Hotel and Casino Europa, which has 219 slots and 13 table games.
A number of gaming expositions and international conferences are held here, including the annual poker industry conference. This event will take place in Costa Rica in December of 2006 at the Marriott Hotel in San Jose. In conjunction with the conference, there will be a poker tournament at the Fiesta Casino for industry executive and professional poker players, who will demonstrate their strategies and skills.
Costa Rica has become a major gambling destination in Latin America and further development of Costa Rica casinos by domestic and international investors is ongoing. The large corporation of Thunderbird Tres Rios is planning construction of a hotel resort, casino, spa, and residential complex that will attract more of the middle and upper class sections of eastern San Jose.
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