Betting in Acapulco

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Published: 02/04/2013

To many, the very name “Acapulco” conjures up images of a classy seaside resort, replete with sandy beaches, lavish hotels, stylish restaurants, pulsating clubs and every extravagant form of recreation imaginable save one … gambling. Until quite recently, the Mexican government has stubbornly refused to embrace the benefits of gaming and has only grudgingly allowed Acapulco to develop a bit of casino-type entertainment aimed primarily at visiting tourists.

To date, there are just six officially sanctioned gambling establishments in this city of 687,600 fulltime residents, two of which are highly specialised. Caliente, a licensed betting shop in the La Isla Shopping Village, focuses primarily on sports wagering, while the Bingo-SportsBook next to Wal-Mart on the Costera, true to its name, is mainly about daubing for dólares. But make no mistake, “Mexican Bingo” is a fast-paced game much loved by local residents, and playing it can be just as much about having a cultural experience as having a flutter.

The two emporiums in Acapulco that most resemble full-fledged gambling halls are owned by the Emotion Casino Group, one in Condesa and the other at the $20 million Fiesta Alegre Jai-Alai Stadium and Sports Book. Both Emotion Casino locations offer bookmaking, with wagering popular on football, basketball, baseball, soccer, horse and dog races, and boxing matches. They also have electronic bingo machines as well as video slots, but there are no table games or poker rooms, as those activities are not currently legal.

The Emotion properties feature bars and restaurants in addition to betting opportunities. They are as close as one can come to a Las Vegas-style experience within a stone’s throw of the beaches of Acapulco. Both are conveniently open from 10am till 3am daily, and until 4am on weekends.

The other two gambling facilities in Acapulco are both located within shopping malls. Perhaps the best known of the two is the PlayCity Casino in Gran Plaza. It is owned and operated by the PlayCity division of Apuestas Internacionales S.A. de C.v. To their credit, PlayCity have managed to become the biggest operator of gaming facilities in the country, while offering only bingo, sports betting and machine gaming. The press have dubbed their facilities “casino lite.”

The PlayCity branch in Acapulco, which can accommodate a little over 300 patrons in total, has benefited from the company’s adoption of the tried and true tactics of global casino brands like Caesars in order to grow their business. For example, PlayCity has a “Rewards” club for loyal patrons, offering points for play at a rate of one point per 20 pesos staked.

Another big league benefit is a networked jackpot system for the casino’s slot games. As of spring 2013, five of PlayCity’s progressive versions in Acapulco were offering just over $1.1 million as a top prize, and another five topped $583,000. The games are indigenous and have names like “Mrs. X,” “El Pez” and “Bingo Star.”

It should be noted that “Electrónico,” as slot machines are referred to in Acapulco and throughout Mexico, may seem a bit unusual to those who have visited the floors of casinos elsewhere in the world. The machines do not accept coins or cash. Instead, the player must pre-pay a cashier for credits to be added to the machine. All winnings are hand paid.

Meanwhile, the other mall casino, Casino Yak 8 in Galerías Diana, is owned by Grupo CIE, a Mexican entertainment company that also operates various auditoriums and theme parks throughout Latin America. With a capacity for about 350 players, the Acapulco branch is perhaps the more “locals friendly” of the bunch, offering Mexican Bingo as well as sports betting and electrónico.

In addition to the six legal gambling entities, the Mexican National Lottery also offers “scratch tickets” all over Acapulco. They are sold at retail outlets such as liquor stores and grocery marts, and winning cards consist of three like matches. Tickets cost 5 or 10 pesos each, with prizes of thousands of pesos possible.

Published on: 02/04/2013

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