In today’s post, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about gambling in Cancun, Mexico.
There’s a lot to cover when it comes to casino gambling, poker, and sports betting in Cancun.
Let’s dive right in.
Are There Casinos in Cancun? Can You Gamble in Cancun?
You CAN gamble in Cancun.
There ARE casinos and resorts there, too.
In fact, you can get action at 7 different casinos in Cancun:
- Caliente Sportsbook and Casino
- Casino Palace Cancun
- Dubai Palace Casino
- Juega Juega Casino
- Macao Casino Cancun
- Red Casino
- Royal Yak Casino and Sportsbook
According to TripAdvisor, Dubai Palace is the nicest casino there, too.
Caliente Sportsbook and Casino
I read a couple of online reviews of Caliente Sportsbook and Casino in Cancun. The first said that he went to bet on baseball and soccer there, and the property refused to accept US dollars.
When he returned a few days later with pesos, the property advised him that you can only bet there if you’re a Mexican citizen.
Also, the second review of Caliente Casino was negative. The couple had gone to the property hoping to bet on the Kentucky Derby. Not only would the property not accept US dollars for a bet on the race, they wouldn’t accept US dollars for a drink.
They said this was the first time they’d felt unwelcome at a Cancun resort.
With these reviews in mind, I’d be hesitant to recommend Caliente Casino — at least to US travelers.
If you’ve had different experiences there, I’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment.
Casino Palace Cancun
Casino Palace has mixed reviews but seems to be a better bet for travelers from the United States. One reviewer explained that the gambling machines are on the first floor, and the table games are on the second floor of the casino. He said they walked away from the casino winners.
Another reviewer had a more negative experience. He thought the casino was a dump in a seedy neighborhood. He didn’t like having to load money onto a card at the counter to gamble, either. The line for this counter was long, and he complained that the entire process was slow.
He also suggested that casino security was too intense. The slot machines were missing buttons or the sound didn’t work.
Finally, he warned that you’d need a valid passport to cash out your winnings.
This casino might be better avoided.
If you had an experience at Casino Palace, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Dubai Palace Casino
This property prides itself on being tourist friendly. If you’re going to gamble in Cancun, I suggest trying this property. About 1/3 of the employees there are bilingual, which is a big plus right out of the starting gate.
The slot machines at Dubai Palace are all manufactured in the United States, and 80% of them have pay tables and other information in English. And even the 20% of the slot machines that are in Spanish are bilingual.
They have a restaurant that’s open 24/7, too.
Gamblers with complaints about Dubai Palace experienced the same problems with having to load cash onto their cards to play, and the country taxes the money on the cards regardless of whether you win or lose. That’s not something exclusive to Dubai Palace, but you should know about it.
Juega Juega Casino
I couldn’t find much information about this property online, but the 2018 review I found was positive. I’m not sure that Juega Juega Casino is still in business.
If you know anything about this property, please leave a comment.
Macao Casino Cancun
I found multiple Google reviews for Macao Casino Cancun, and the most recent was 3 months ago. The reviews were largely positive, and I read that the casino was clean and well cared for.
One reviewer called the property “quaint.”
The games there consist mostly of slots, but the pit boss will open up blackjack or craps tables upon request anytime.
As with other casinos in the area, you must load money onto a card before playing.
Red Casino is a casino in the Grand Oasis Resort.
One of the first reviews I read on TripAdvisor about Red Casino was that the slot machines are rigged to never pay out a jackpot of more than $100. I doubt this is accurate. Everyone always assumes that a game is cheating, but they never have sufficient evidence to support the assertion. Extraordinary evidence requires extraordinary proof.
Another review that was more interesting and likely more accurate points out that Red Casino doesn’t offer free drinks. The same reviewer complained about aggressive security staff and measures. I also found the usual complaints about the tax on the money being added to a card before you gamble.
As I write this, Red Casino is still closed (temporarily) because of the pandemic.
Royal Yak Casino and Sportsbook
The reviews I read of Royal Yak Casino and Sportsbook seem to agree that the casino is small and dimly lit. Like Red Casino, Royal Yak Casino doesn’t offer free drinks.
If I were looking for gambling in Cancun, I’d zero in on Dubai Palace rather than Royal Yak or any of the other choices on this list.
Casino Gambling in Cancun
Casino gambling in Cancun is a relatively new offering — before 2010, there weren’t any casinos to speak of here. Having read reviews of multiple casinos there, I’ve concluded that no matter where you play, you’ll be charged a tax when adding money or deducting money from the card you use to play with.
This amount seems to vary from 3% to 8% depending on which reports you read. Since this adds to the casino’s effective house edge, I’m not sure that Cancun is the place I’d choose as a gambling destination.
The difference seems to have something to do with the taxes being separate from the membership fee that some casinos charge. The membership fee is 200 pesos at most casinos and is required before you’re allowed to gamble. The tax is in addition to that.
I think most people visit Cancun for other reasons, and casino gambling in Cancun is just an additional offering from the properties there.
The biggest casino in Cancun is Dubai Palace, which has over 450 different slot machine games to choose from.
It’s unlikely that Cancun will offer Las Vegas or Macao much competition anytime in the near future.
Is Gambling in Cancun Legal?
Gambling in Cancun IS legal, but it only became legal recently. Until about 10 years ago, gambling of all kinds was illegal in Cancun.
To gamble there, you must convert your money into pesos. You cannot gamble in US dollars. You’ll deal with pitiful exchange rates if you exchange your money at the casino, so convert your money into pesos BEFORE visiting the casino and gamble with the pesos you brought.
If you’re noticeably drunk or high, the casino staff will refuse service.
Winnings aren’t taxed, but you pay taxes when you add money to and withdraw money from the card that you load with credits at the casino.
You must show a valid ID to gamble in a casino there.
If you have additional information about the legality of gambling in Cancun, please leave a comment.
What Is the Gambling Age in Cancun?
The legal gambling age in Cancun is 18. Be prepared to prove that you’re old enough with a picture ID. Security measures in Cancun casinos are stronger than security casinos elsewhere.
Sports Betting in Cancun
Gambling on sports is legal anywhere in Mexico, and most of the casinos there have a sportsbook — including the properties in Cancun.
If you have additional information about sports betting in Cancun, please leave a comment.
Poker in Cancun
Most of the casinos in Cancun don’t offer player-versus-player poker games. Instead, you’ll find casino-banked poker games like Caribbean Stud or Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
These are NOT the same as what most people would consider real poker, although gambling beginners might not know the difference.
I want to hear from you.
What information about gambling in Cancun did I leave out?
Should I revise or add to this post? What would you change?
Let me know by leaving a comment below.
I am currently in Cancun, visited both Dubai and Palace Casino. Dec. 18, 2021. Yes, they both require you to load a card and the lines were very long. After finally getting a players card I was told I couldn’t use USD to load card. Was told I had to go to the hotel to get pesos and then come back to load. I didn’t bother doing any of this. Dubai is nice, small for US but was told 2nd largest here. They had space between the machines for social distancing. They wouldn’t allow the Uber to pick me up there. They give Uber drivers a hard time all over.
The palace is in a ‘seedy’, downtown hotel area part of. It’s across from the Marriott Fairfield and Wyndham hotel (both not bad hotels in the rooms, comparable to 3 star in the states). But it’s in a more local neighborhood. So yes, you see folks sleeping on street, beggars asking for money etc.
The area is pretty well lit around it, a few small restaurants open across from it. It closes at 11pm
This Casino is smaller and it was PACKED. They check your pulse and give you hand sanitizer but there are no dividers between games or every other machine off to give a bit of distance. Almost everyone had on masks but it’s very packed and busy. They had table games downstairs and slots. I didn’t go upstairs. I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English well enough to explain how to play, get a card etc so I left without going upstairs or trying to gamble.
Are there resorts that allow outsider to play at their casino. I’ll be staying at Dreams Vista resort