5 Gaming Hot Spots in the Caribbean

At these tropical destinations, groups can mix business, betting, and beach time

Aruba Marriott Resort Stellaris Casino

The Caribbean is known for its warm weather, beautiful beaches and pristine waters. But there's a lot more to paradise than sunbathing and swimming. When "relaxation" eventually gives way to "boredom," there's also an infinite supply of entertainment -- including gaming, which infuses many Caribbean destinations with 'round-the-clock fun. Here are five of those destinations, where meeting attendees don't have to choose between a conference room, a cabana, or a casino; they can divide their time between all three.

Aruba is just 20 miles long by 6 miles wide. In its small footprint, however, it has managed to fit not only 17 beaches -- all of them public -- but also a dozen casinos, most of which are located inside the high-rise hotels that line glamorous Palm Beach, on Aruba's northern coast.

The largest of the bunch is the Stellaris Casino at the Aruba Marriott Resort (pictured), which offers more than 26 gaming tables, 500 slot machines, and numerous kiosks for race and sports betting steps from the Marriott's 411 guest rooms and seven event spaces, which total 10,450 square feet.

Other options include the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, which has 357 guest rooms, a starlit-themed casino, and 39,000 square feet of function space; the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino, which has 357 guest rooms, over 9,000 square feet of function space, and a casino with 13 gaming tables and 221 slot machines; and Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino on the less populous Eagle Beach in Oranjestad, which has 556 guest rooms, 22,000 square feet of function space, and a 15,000-square-foot, 24-hour casino with 425 slot machines, and 18 gaming tables.

The Bahamas
Whether their game of choice is poker, blackjack, or roulette, every avid gambler knows that you have to bet big in order to win big. And in the Caribbean, there's nowhere bigger you can bet than The Bahamas, which is home to the region's largest casino: the 100,000-square-foot Baha Mar Casino in Nassau, which boasts 119 table games offering 18 different games -- including blackjack, baccarat, craps, and roulette -- not to mention 1,100 slots and a sports book. All this on the same grounds as three luxury resorts -- Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, SLS Baha Mar, and Rosewood Baha Mar -- that collectively have 2,200 rooms and 200,000 square feet of function space.

Baha Mar may be The Bahamas' largest casino, but it's not its only casino. There's also the 50,000-square-foot Atlantis Casino at the massive Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, which features 85 gaming tables -- for baccarat, poker, craps, roulette, and blackjack -- as well as a racing and sports book and 725 slot machines that are available for play 24/7. There are free lessons for guests who want to learn a new game and the exclusive "Salon Privé" for high rollers. This, plus 3,414 guest rooms and over 700,000 square feet of meeting space.

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is one of the best places in the Caribbean to catch some sun. But the fun doesn't end when the sun goes down. Rather, it's just beginning thanks in large part to the island's 17 casinos, the largest of which is the 24-hour Casino Metro at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino in San Juan. While the hotel has 503 guest rooms and 40,000 square feet of meeting space -- on top of the 580,000 square feet at the adjacent Puerto Rico Convention Center -- the casino has more than 400 slots and 18 table games, including the first and only electronic roulette table in Puerto Rico.

Another popular place for gaming in Puerto Rico is La Concha Renaissance Resort in Condado. Along with 483 guest rooms and over 30,000 square feet of meeting space, it has a 24/7 casino with 20 table games and 416 slot machines, including two high-limit slot areas.

Also check out the casinos at The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan, which will reopen later this year with 416 guest rooms and 30,000 square feet of meeting space; the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort in Rio Grande, which has 400 guest rooms and nearly 100,000 square feet of function space; and the Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort in Ponce.

Dominican Republic
There are a few things everyone can expect from a trip to the Dominican Republic: eating tostones, drinking Mamajuanas, and placing bets at the local casino. Or rather, "casinos" -- plural -- as there are nearly 50 casinos and slot machine halls in the Dominican, which is far and away the largest concentration of casinos in the Caribbean.

Punta Cana alone has 18 casinos, the largest of which is the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, which has 1,799 guest rooms, 65,500 square feet of meeting space, and a 45,000-square-foot casino with 40 table games, more than 450 slots, and a special VIP area for high rollers. Other popular choices for gaming in Punta Cana include Bávaro Princess Resort, Spa & Casino, which has 806 suites and 7,000 square feet of meeting space; the Barceló Bávaro Palace, which has 1,402 guest rooms and 25,000 square feet of meeting space; and Hotel Riu Palace Macao, which has 356 guest rooms and six meeting rooms for groups of up to 700. 

Santo Domingo also is a gaming hot spot, with 12 casinos to choose from, including one at the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino, which has 300 guest rooms and 45,000 square feet of meeting space; the Barceló Santo Domingo, which has 217 guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space; and the Crowne Plaza Santo Domingo, which has 196 guest rooms and 30,000 square feet of meeting space.

St. Maarten

St. Maarten was devastated last year by Hurricane Irma. The island is recovering quickly, however, and is anxious to welcome visitors back to its shores. When those visitors return, they won't find any gaming on the French side of St. Maarten. The Dutch side, however, is another story. There, they'll be able to choose from 14 different casinos, the largest of which is the 21,000-square-foot Casino Royale at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, which has 21 table games and more than 410 slot machines. The resort -- which has 406 guest rooms and 24,000 square feet of meeting space -- is currently closed due to damage sustained during Hurricane Irma, but is expected to reopen by Labor Day.

Another favorite that's expected to reopen later this year is the Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, which has 308 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.