Journeys Sout​h

Get way Off the beaten path in Latin America, the US Southwest, and beyond

Casinos and gambling while traveling


Casinos and gambling are not found in every part of the world, but they are in a good portion of Latin America and surrounding areas. Some casinos just are not worth spending your money on gambling, but sometimes it is the atmosphere that is worth the stop. When traveling, casinos are great places to meet up with old friends and make new ones. It is not always about the actual gambling, but the people, music, cigars, and drinks that swarm casinos all over the world.

Las Vegas, Kansas City, and Louisiana have some of the best casinos in the world for actually gambling. They have a large selection of table games and slot machines. Indian casinos have began to swarm the US, but most of them do not have premier table games like craps and roulette.

Some gamblers have opted to just gamble online, most of these are actually based in Central America or the Caribbean. 

Despite rampant corruption in some casino rings, the US does regulate better than most of Latin America. Picking casinos in Latin America can be tricky if you are actually wanting to put money on the line, but you do not have to forgo the casino experience while traveling. 

Casinos in Panama


If your traveling or working in Central America there are a few options for casinos in Panama City, Panama. The best bet is to head over to the Veneto. The Veneto, a Wyndham Grand Hotel and Casino, offers affordable rooms and a good gambling floor. It is the biggest casino in the country of Panama.

Slot machines, blackjack, and a sports book are open all day. Craps games open a little later. I had a blast my first time playing craps here, even though I got booted from the table. I have a soft and controlled roll on the table, which at times does not hit the back wall. After being asked to hit the wall I did my best to hit it almost every time. 

I think the fact that I was winning a lot of money made the stick-woman a little bit pickier. After I was on a run of a 20 minute roll, she grabbed my dice out of mid air and booted me and my buddy from the table. 

It was ok, I was winning and probably needed to leave anyways.

Besides the casino, the hotel has a nice pool on the roof that frequently has parties. The restaurant is not that great but there are a lot to chose from in this area.

The Veneto has 56 table games and 625 slots. 

There are seven other casinos in the city that have table games and another 10 or so that just have slots.

Another good choice is the majestic, which is slightly smaller in game numbers than the Veneto. They have craps and most other table games running in the evenings and holidays. It is located adjacent to the Multicento Shopping Center and next door to the Radisson Hotel.

I have tried out a number of casinos in Panama City but always return to the Veneto and spend the most time there. If you are staying a number of nights you can sometimes get a night free at the hotel. 

Online gambling


Online gambling can be a tricky topic because in many places it is illegal to do so. To make things worse it can be used to launder money as well. As usual, I am not here to preach to you about morals and legalities, but give you some solid advice.


The first step is picking an online gambling site and trying to stick with that one. The importance of using just one or two is that you can build up rewards and free money over time. 

The next step is to pick your game of choice. Many gamblers want to play online card games such as poker or even play online slots. I would not recommend too much of this as the house can do about whatever it wants over a course of time. If your a sports better, then online may not be such a bad thing.

There are a number of sports betting sites (that double as online casinos) that you can sign up for easily. On these sites you can even get money on referrals if your friends sign up and deposit money. Currently the top two most popular sites are Bovada and BookMaker. Bovada gets more respect in the US, as it is larger and its odd lines are used by mainstream media.

If you go with Bovada you need to find a way to upload money. There are many ways, except often your debit and credit cards with not go through. This can cause a huge hassle with your accounts. You can do money transfers but you have to get on the phone and go through steps with an account rep. 

The easiest way is to pick up a Visa gift card from an actual bank. Make sure the card is accepted world wide as the deposit will be an international deposit most of the time. (You will also have to pay about 5% of your deposit as a fee) These cards should look like a gift card, not be rechargeable, and not have a name on them.

With Bovada you can bet on about anything possible in the sports world. While betting American football games you can even buy points that make your spread easier but they take a percentage off your win. 


Gambling in Tijuana


Tijuana is not really a gambling destination, at least if your looking for legal gambling, but it has a casino if you need one. Mexico has very conflicting gambling laws that tend to vary from state to state and change often. After an attack on a casino in Monterrey by a cartel that killed dozens, the federal government has tightened up its grip on the gambling industry.

You can always find a good cock fight to gamble on or a good backroom poker game in Tijuana, but if you want to play some legit gaming and avoid the street thugs head over to the Pueblo Amigo Hotel y Casino. This casino is very near the border crossing at San Ysidro (from San Diego) and has a nice hotel, bars, and restaurant all on the property. 

You may see table games in advertisements for the casino, but as of now the casino has only 500 slot machines and a sports betting area. The casino is owned by a politician who also owns the popular Tijuana Futbol Club. Opposing teams will often stay here before games. 

I recently booked a room here for $65 USD. If you prepay you get the better rate. The security is strong at the casino, so not much need to worry about crime inside the property. I played a little slots and bet on a futbol game while there. I did not see many people making money, but it is a great place to drink and people watch into the night.

Cockfighting is still legal in Tijuana, as long as it plays by the rules (you must get a government permit). The best place to catch one is going to be at a large festival. Sometimes events like the Tijuana Tequila Festival will host cockfights later in the evening. 

Police will at times raid illegal cockfights which occur in backyards of homes in the slums. Even though it would be fun to attend these, you probably should stay away.

You can actually offshore gamble on Tijuana cockfights each night through a few different websites.

The owner of the casino mentioned above promotes cockfighting. If you hang out long enough at the casino you can probably get information on where to find them.