Are All These Casinos Really Necessary?

You bet your life they are
BY: IVAN GUERRERO

Leaping Lizards, The Star of India, and Lots of Lemmings were all screaming while spitting silver coins into some lucky gamblers’ cups just when I arrived at the Jackpot Casino in Rosarito. And that was from only a few of the hundreds of machines that used to be called one armed bandits. These days the mechanical one arm antiques have been replaced by faster than a speeding bullet computers that can eat your dollars faster than Mickey D can make burgers. This new casino has an amazing assortment of slot machines with various themes, colors and sound effects, all clamoring for your attention. The new building is very modern and quite attractive.

There are three big casinos in Rosarito with one still in the process of becoming your next money pit. 

The Jackpot in the Pabellon plaza has two blackjack tables, two roulette wheels and a bingo game, along with poker and bingo machines. The bingo area has very comfortable chairs and tables with free inkers for marking your cards. There is a snack bar just next to the cashier which is handy to the ATM machine.  For the horse racing fans all bets are covered with a wall of televisions, the better to watch your nag. Of course men were betting on both the college and NFL football games.

Some men, but it was mostly ladies, were hastily stuffing pesos into the slot machines while waiting for the roulette and blackjack tables to open at 6 pm. There is also a smoking room with slots and a pleasant security guard at the entrance to the casino who welcomes you with a walk through his metal detector. Maybe to see if you have enough pesos in your pocket for the slots? Or maybe to assure you’re not going to get pissy about losing your rent money and shooting the place up.

The Corona Hotel on Benito Juarez Boulevard  has a larger casino with many rooms off the lobby area devoted to a variety of ways to gamble. A very comfy area with plush couches has televisions with racing and team sports. The slot machines are scattered throughout the other rooms with blackjack and roulette also on offer. A restaurant and entertainment area has live music on weekends and the poker room offers four tables and a no limit Texas hold em game. The buy-in is 500 pesos. This casino gives one a feeling of Las Vegas and comes with a separate room for the smokers. I met a retired gentleman who had just arrived as our newest expat and found Rosarito and the casino much to his liking.

 Just next to the large fabric shop and a Smart and Final, and also on the main boulevard and down the road a piece, is a sports and race book. It has a couple of very tired looking slot machines but is mainly for the hard core sports and horse bettors. It has a large sign out front and a few men studying their bets inside.

The newest addition to the gambling scene is still under construction where Renee’s restaurant used to be. We walked through it and see that the tired old bar is completely gutted and gone. This casino will be all new, all fresh,  plush, and exciting with every form of gambling, and with a restaurant, entertainment stage, and a separate smoking section. They don’t want to talk about an opening date yet.

Then there are the private games, away from the casinos.

Rosarito charities offers Texas hold em poker tournaments that are always fun and always with all seats taken. Cruz Roja offers a bingo game with prizes given in lieu of money. The Mongolian Grill has a very popular bunco game once a month with prizes consisting of Rosarito restaurant food for the best and worst scores. There are various private Mahjong games along with a Mexican train game and if that’s not enough for you, the ever popular farkle played with dice is offered weekly at Charley’s restaurant.

My last on the list of opportunities to “invest” your money, are the many online poker games.  Americans play from Mexico because it is illegal in the United States, and we have our fair share of those expatriated players right here in Rosarito. They are almost always young males and they have dreams of  making a killing  playing Texas hold em. Most of them seem to at least make a living, hanging at home, intent in front of their computers, sometimes playing multiple games at once. Some of these players are even backed by investors. There are many on line poker sites to choose from, some with many thousands of players logging on from all over the world. This is a game of skill and is not for the faint of heart.

Gambling can become addictive just like drugs or alcohol. You can be taken down not just by a specific game or opponent, but by the institution of gambling itself. If you feel you might be slipping into that ditch, get yourself to Gamblers Anonymous before you lose everything and everybody you hold precious in your life.  GA can be found online and there are meetings in Ensenada and San Diego or call 626 960 3500.

Good luck to all.