Placing Bets at Top Casino Hotels in San Juan

Did you know that in Puerto Rico, all the casinos are in hotels? Ah, but which hotels have the best gaming? In San Juan, these ones stand out.

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    ••• The Lobby at the El San Juan Hotel & Casino is one reason it is tops among San Juan's casino hotels. Photo © Zain Deane

    The grandaddy of them all, the El San Juan Hotel & Casino is in a class by itself among casino hotels. It's got a storied history; this is where the a-list celebrities like the original Brat Pack used to hang out, and today's stars still come here for a good time. With a lavish lobby, lounge and bar area that is always hopping, and terrific live salsa bands adding to the buzz, it's one of the few places where the hottest action might be away from the tables.

    The casino is a sprawling affair, with 13,000 square feet of gaming space featuring:

    • Blackjack
    • Craps
    • Baccarat
    • Roulette
    • Caribbean stud poker
    • 300 slot machines
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    ••• The casino bar is a welcome respite for those who have lost, or a perfect party room for those who just won big!. Photo © Zain Deane

    The newest hotel on this list, the large and well-appointed Sheraton also boasts the largest casino in Puerto Rico, with 20,000 square feet of gaming space. The hotel's Casino Metro has almost 450 slot machines and 16 table games, including blackjack, roulette, baccarat, pai gow poker and three-card poker. Hardcore gamers can sign up for the M Players Club, a points card that can be redeemed for reward dollars.

    A very cool feature of the casino is its entertainment niches reserved for live bands and mingling. An oval bar on the floor is a nice meeting point, but my favorite feature was the second-floor enclave where a funky trio livened up the atmosphere with '80s covers.

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    Of all the casino hotels in San Juan, the Condado Plaza feels most like a Vegas property. It's the first hotel you come across as you enter Condado from Old San Juan. At over 12,000 square feet, it's among the largest casinos in San Juan, and it's open 24 hours-a-day. When you're ready for a break, check out the Cocolobo lounge and club for drinks, food, and live music.

    Features include:

    • Over 400 slot machines
    • Blackjack
    • Craps
    • Roulette
    • Texas Hold-em (This is one of only a handful of casinos in San Juan that features Hold-em games)
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    ••• The Ritz-Carlton. Photo © Zain Deane

    The Ritz's first casino lives up to the brand's reputation for elegance. This large casino wins major style points and is decorated in a throwback style you might see in Monte Carlo. I also give it props for having a cigar maker rolling fresh cigars just outside and a new lounge on the second floor to break up the action. Open 24 hours-a-day, it's also got plenty of gaming, including:

    • Blackjack
    • Roulette
    • Caribbean Stud Poker
    • Over 300 slot machines
    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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    ••• The pool at the Marriott San Juan Resort & Stellaris Casino. Photo © Zain Deane

    With its right-on-the-beach location in Condado, beautiful outdoor pool, and renovated rooms, the Marriott is a well-priced favorite. Its casino is no less popular and is known for its friendly staff. Occupying a spacious 12,000 square feet, it conforms to the more popular classic European look that you find in so many of Puerto Rico's casinos.

    Features include:

    • Blackjack
    • Roulette
    • Craps
    • Caribbean stud poker
    • Slot machines
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    ••• The Sheraton Old San Juan. Photo © Zain Deane

    The Sheraton gets on this list because it's the only choice if you want to gamble in Old San Juan. The largest hotel in the old city also boasts its only casino, and while it doesn't measure up to some of the other ones on this list in its style and gaming choices, the setting and location counts for a lot. The focus here is definitely on the slots, with a small amount of table games.

    Features:

    • Blackjack
    • Caribbean stud poker
    • Roulette
    • Three-card poker
    • Over 300 slot machines