Betting in Willemstad

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Prior to the dissolution of the five island territories collectively known as the Netherlands Antilles in 2010, Willemstad was the capital city not only of the Island Territory of Curaçao but also of the entire presence of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean region. Now with an estimated population of 140,000 residents, it serves as the capital of the Country of Curaçao, situated east of Aruba and north of the Venezuelan coast.

The historic centre of Willemstad consists of two quarters: Punda and Otrobanda. Separating them is Saint Anna Bay, an inlet leading into the city’s large natural harbour called the Schottegat. Punda was founded in 1634, when the Dutch captured Curaçao from Spain. Otrobanda, established in 1707, is the newer section of the city, thought of as Willemstad’s cultural centre. Its name comes from a local phrase, “otro banda,” meaning “the other side.”

Willemstad’s deep harbour allowed it to gain prominence as a shipping port and its proximity to Venezuelan oil fields gave rise to a lucrative refining industry. Even today, it ranks among the largest oil handling ports in the Caribbean. But most recently tourism has become a major part of the local economy, thanks to a semi-arid climate, an abundance of sandy beaches and coral reefs nearby, and an array of colonial architecture, including the Snoga Synagogue—the oldest surviving synagogue building in the Western hemisphere, built in 1692 and reconstructed in 1732.

All of the casinos in Willemstad are incorporated within hotel-resorts. A good example of these is the Emerald Casino inside the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort on the city’s northernmost Caribbean coast. Open daily from 11am to 4am, casino occupies 5,000 square feet of gaming space with 150 gaming machines and 17 table games for American Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Craps, Poker, Roulette and Texas Hold’em. The minimum age for players is 18 years old, dress is casual and chips are denominated in U.S. dollars. The property also features six restaurants, two swimming pools, tennis courts, a health club and 257 guestrooms.

At the mouth of the inlet to St. Anne Bay is another Marriott property—the Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino, featuring 335 gaming machines and 19 table games. It is open from 10am for slots and 11am for table play until 3:30am. Flanking the Renaissance on a coastal island is the 200-room Holiday Beach Resort, home to the 29,848-square-foot Casino Veneto with its 450 gaming machines and 14 table games, open daily from 11am to 4am. And just up the inlet on the opposite flank is the cozy Otrobanda Hotel and Casino, open daily from 10am to 4am, with 5,000 square feet of gaming space, 205 gaming machines, six table games, two restaurants and 45 guestrooms.

Across the inlet at its mouth stands the Plaza Hotel & Casino, built atop the historic Waterford Forte, an 18th century stronghold. Open from 2pm to 5am daily, it offers slot machines, Blackjack, Roulette, Bingo and Poker, along with a cocktail lounge and weekly karaoke. Behind the Plaza toward the Indoor Market is the San Marco Hotel & Casino, offering 223 gaming machines and five table games from 10am to 2am daily, plus a restaurant and 82 guestrooms.

Among downtown Willemstad venues is the Pelikaan Hotel & Casino, which opened in 1991 along the city’s main Carnival route on Langestraat. Open from 10am to 2am daily, it features 155 gaming machines, a bar/restaurant and 74 guestrooms. Also on Langestraat is the Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino, featuring table games such as Poker, five restaurants, a luxury spa and 80 guestrooms.

South along the coast away from the city centre on Doctor Martin Luther King Boulevard is the Princess Beach Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino. It is situated upon 1,500 feet of pristine beachfront property directly in front of the popular National Underwater Park. The casino covers 11,000 square feet with 300 gaming machines and nine table games, including Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Electronic Horse Racing and Roulette, available from 10am to 4am daily. Also on the premises are six restaurants, four bars, a full-service spa, four pools, live nightly entertainment and 347 guestrooms.

There is also a casino inside the 60-room Holland Hotel near the airport on F. D. Rooseveltweg. Open daily from noon till 2am, it offers 160 gaming machines and six table games, including 7-Card Stud Poker, American Roulette and Blackjack. An American-style restaurant and a bar can be found on the premises, too.

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