The Slot Spot: Caribbean Casino Insider

During the recent Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE), we had the privilege of trying out the new Casino Dominicus in the Bayahibe area of the Dominican Republic.

We have gambled in the Domincan Republic many times before, but this is the first time we actually felt truly comfortable. Our usual stomping ground, The Casino at the Bavaro Barcelo Hotel & Resort complex in Punta Cana, is full of tourists. But this casino drew the locals.

Why does that make a difference?

Who is most likely to care more about their money? A tourist dropping his pocket cash on one hand of blackjack for a cheap thrill or a local who most likely worked about five hours to muster up the dough it costs for that very same hand?

Not to knock Bavaro, but the casino tends to draw an array of people to the blackjack table who, frankly, do not know what they are doing. The employees and equipment aren’t much better: The waitress service is a bit spotty, the ATM machine likes to eat bank cards and the dealers never seem to be happy.

Casino Dominicus, which opened in December but didn’t have a grand opening until the week of DATE in April, had a totally different vibe.

If your clients are staying in Punta Cana, we don’t recommend it, as the fishing village of Bayahibe is about 90 minutes away by car and it draws those locals. But if they are already staying at a resort nearby, we suggest this wagering spot.

We played blackjack for about 200 pesos a hand, which is about $6. It’s very cheap and the dealers were obviously well trained. They were quick, knew exactly when to draw attention to their pit boss and made sure you had a drink in hand at all times. In fact, the pit boss, who is basically mid to upper management in a casino, even took my drink order (a Presidente beer) at one point.

The casino features Las Vegas odds, an exclusive players' club and the highest limits in the nation. It offers lower minimum bets, which, when paid in pesos, will allow players the flexibility to further stretch their chances, while premier entertainment, cuisine and quality shopping round out the offerings.

In the case of our visit, we played blackjack to the sound of a local Dominican band that played live music for nearly four hours.

Casino Dominicus provides two introductory offers, including $20 match-play coupons and free $20 buy-in on slot machines. Club members will be able to accumulate points for rewards based on their play frequency. Meanwhile, members and nonmembers alike can earn comps for free rooms, meals and airfare at any of the casino’s 23 gaming tables.

Casino Dominicus offers everything from standard games such as blackjack, craps, roulette, Three-Card Poker and Texas Hold’em Poker to new favorites like Caribbean Stud Poker and Mini Baccarat.

For sports fans and racing enthusiasts, Casino Dominicus’ Race and Sports Book gives your clients the opportunity to wager on major sporting events and horse races from around the world, including live simulcasts from the U.S. and Canada.

Three restaurants, ranging from fine cuisine to informal fare, complete the establishment’s offerings. As an upscale dining option, Vesuvio at Casino Dominicus, like its original location in Santo Domingo, serves classic Italian dishes and fresh seafood, including lobster, mussels, shrimp and red snapper, all flavored with a Caribbean twist.

For guests desiring lighter, more casual fare, a sports bar will offer a full menu and drinks in a relaxed and informal atmosphere, while a contemporary sushi bar in the main shopping center will tempt more adventurous palates.

Operating seven days a week and only 15 minutes east of the La Romana-Casa de Campo International Airport, Casino Dominicus is easily accessible for all travelers to the La Romana and Bayahibe region and also provides continuous nightly shuttle service to the Coral Canoa Resort, Gran Dominicus, Iberostar Dominicus, Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach and Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace.

Are you an agent who would like to share casino news, thoughts and insider tips on selling Caribbean destinations with casinos? Write Joe Pike at [email protected].