Sint Maarten For the Win
There’s no question that the casino industry is alive and well in the Caribbean. Business is booming in places like Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Even the Bahamas, that old vacation standby, has been busy adding casinos. But the crime rate in these regions is also on the rise. It’s not bad enough yet for official travel advisories, but tourists have been warned to take extra precautions.
That’s good advice no matter where you go. However, if you’re looking for a somewhat safer casino destination, Sint Maarten might be your best option. It’s one of the more developed islands in the Caribbean, and according to a 2015 report by the Gaming Technologies Association, Sint Maarten has more gaming machines per capita than anywhere else in the world.
You’ll find over 400 of those machines and the Casino Royale. This is the largest and most popular casino of the 14 (at last count) in Sint Maarten; it also features 20 table games and a poker room that’s about to host a World Series of Poker circuit event in November. Conveniently enough, November is a good time to visit if you’re a bargain hunter – high season in Sint Maarten doesn’t start until December.
Casino Royale may have the size and the famous name, but it’s a bit gauche, as they say on the French side of the island (all the casinos are located in the south, on the Dutch side). If you’re a foodie, try the Atlantis World Casino. If shopping is your thing, the Beach Plaza and the Coliseum Casino are right there on Front Street. Or if you’d rather avoid the hustle and bustle, the Westin Casino is tucked away next to Dawn Beach.
When you’re not at the casino, make sure to spend some time on the French side. The northern part of Sint Maarten, known as Saint Martin, was considered part of Guadeloupe until 2007. It costs a bit more, and the nightlife isn’t nearly the same without all those casinos, but it’s quieter, with better food and shopping. Also, if you’re renting a car, get it on the French side; Sint Maarten requires rental cars to display the letter “R” on their license plates, making them obvious targets for theft. Aim to be back at your hotel by a reasonable time, and you should have no troubles.