Panama: Five Casinos for a Gamers Night on the Town26th November 2014
Central America’s cultural capital, Panama City has the best nightlife in the region. From top tier restaurants to shows of every kind, Panama’s capital is a smorgasbord of entertainment. Venues like the National Theater and Atlapa Convention Center offer highbrow options galore. However, Panama City’s downtown area offers fun and games when you’re in the mood to be adventurous.
For gambling enthusiasts, four casinos—soon to be five—are a cut above the rest. For a Bond-worthy night on the town, here’s a rundown:
1. Party It Up At The Fiesta Casino:
Part of the El Panama Hotel Complex, the Fiesta Casino is a spacious venue with a VIP area for private events. Located in Panama City’s El Cangrejo sector, it is perhaps best known for its nightly shows featuring dancers and salsa musicians. Founded in 1951, the El Panama Hotel is a big part of Panama City history, as it was once known as the most modern hotel in the region. (It has had a couple makeovers over the decades, so don’t expect Mod décor.) If you’re staying at the El Panama, make sure to allow plenty of time to loll in the pool, the hotel’s best feature. And don’t forget to cross over to popular Spanish restaurant Manolo’s, where a sweet, crispy churro and cappuccino are sure to hit the spot any time of day. The Fiesta is right around the corner from the Veneto hotel and casino, so for an epic night, we recommend visiting both.
DISCOVER: The top 10 things to do in Casco Viejo
2. Glamour & Girls At the Veneto:
Every major city in the world has a seedy underside, and Panama is no exception. The Veneto Wyndham Grand Hotel & Casino has an old Las Vegas feel, with bright marquis style bulbs beckoning passersby. (Unlike Las Vegas, Panama passed smoke-free legislation some years ago, so you won’t see anyone lighting up indoors). The casino is as elegantly outfitted as any on The Strip, but is has a reputation for attracting “ladies of the night.” So if a pretty young thing engages you in conversation, keep this in mind. The casino is usually hopping after 10 p.m. on weekends, so have dinner across the way first. Pomodoro is a local favorite with generous servings of reasonably priced Italian fare. The Sicilian-style pasta (rich with eggplant, mozzarella and tomatoes) is a hearty feast sure to satisfy even the biggest appetite. Part of the establishment is a Wine Bar with a large selection of vinos by the glass—a great place to sample the excellent Argentinean wines sold in Panama.
3. Stellar Service At The Royal Casino:
Adjacent to the Marriot Hotel in Panama City, this casino evokes 007 with more than just its name (so similar to the Casino Royale of Bond franchise fame). With well-trained wait staff and dealers, the Royal casino seeks to pamper all those who frequent it. As in other casinos in Panama, tipping is not as common as in the U.S., so enjoy the free drinks and don’t feel like you have to court your dealer. If you’re staying at the Marriot, there is a killer breakfast buffet every morning. Across the street, Beirut serves up truly authentic Lebanese eats. If the restaurant is closed when you’re at your hungriest, don’t fret. The Ejecutivo Hotel, just two blocks away, is known for its “breakfast anytime” 24-hour restaurant. Go there at 3 a.m. and you’ll find it full of post-party revelers filling up on eggs and toast. (We recommend the spicy Mexican-style huevos rancheros.)
4. Everything You Need, Near the Hard Rock Hotel:
Want to plan a weekend of fun? Panama’s MultiCentro Mall is the downtown area’s most convenient hub. In and across from the complex you will find the Hard Rock Panama Megapolis Hotel, a wide selection of shops (so good they’ll tempt reformed shopaholics), several spa and gym facilities, and Panama City’s Majestic Casino. Start your day with a massage at the Decapolis Hotel’s serene spa, do a bit of shopping at MultiCentro (and nearby MultiPlaza Mall), then head to Ciao Tapas & Pizza at the Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis for a bite to eat. Once you’re fed and watered, cross over to the Majestic Casino for a night of table games…roulette, blackjack and more are available here. Prefer lower stakes? There are also slots…and it doesn’t cost anything to mingle or strike a pose on the small dance floor.
5. Panama’s Newest Offering:
Looking to try something new? Panama’s Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower just inaugurated a 75,000 square foot casino operated by Sun International. We haven’t visited yet, but the hotel has a penchant for luxury, so we have high hopes for this new facility featuring baccarat, blackjack, roulette and more. Have a romantic dinner at Barcelona first—the on-site restaurant’s patio is a visual feast of twinkling lights. Then be sure to snap some photos of the sail-shaped building, one of Panama’s premier architectural landmarks.
* Off The Radar:
If you’ve “been there, done that,” and are looking for a new or more local experience, here are a couple recommendations for the adventurous:
1. Panama’s Hipodromo
Panama’s Hipodromo or Hippodrome is located in eastern Panama City, en route to the international airport. Open daily, the track features local and international horse races, an on-site casino, pony rides for kids, and a pool. It is part of the Irving Saladino sports complex and stadium, Panama’s largest such event complex. Admission is just $1, so bring the whole family for a day of local-style fun.
2. Bingo 90
If you’re a bingo enthusiast, head to Bingo 90 in the Obarrio district of Panama City. Though there are slots here, Panama residents come for the inexpensive local fare and the bingo. Treat yourself to cheap beer and play a game or two, then cross over to Restaurante Napoli, a Panamanian institution serving the best pickled eggplant you’ve ever tasted (order with fresh warm pita to sop up all the garlic sauce).
No comments on this article.