As you would expect from a capital city, London has some of the most glamorous and luxurious casinos in the UK. Some of them have been around for hundreds of years, while others are newer, more modern constructions. There are also a fair number of more casual establishments, proving just how popular casinos are with people from all walks of life.
The UK has a long history with gambling. Card games like poker were a common sight in upper class parlours, while the working classes preferred to wager on the races and football matches. In the 1960s gambling was legalised, creating casinos, betting shops, and bingo halls, where people could socialise and have fun. 60 years on, the same activities are as popular as ever, and have even seen a resurgence with the invention of online casinos.
But the one thing that online casinos cannot replicate is the stunning architecture and sizzling atmosphere that can be found in some of these amazing buildings.
The Hippodrome Casino, Westminster
Opened in 1900 as a theatre and music hall, the Hippodrome has played host to a number of famous faces including Ella Fitzgerald and Tom Jones. In 2009 an extensive renovation and restoration program began on the building, including the development of a new casino.
Eventually opened in 2012, the Hippodrome Casino won the ‘Best Land-based Casino’ award the following year, and when you take a look at its credentials, it’s not difficult to see why.
The Hippodrome boasts three floors of games, all in stunning period rooms with high, vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows. There are 20 Poker tables, 18 Roulette tables, and dozens of slot machines and video machines electronic Craps, Baccarat and Sic Bo. As well as this, the Hippodrome also has a world-famous restaurant – Heliot – and a 180-seat theatre that plays tribute to the building’s roots with nightly jazz, cabaret, and burlesque performances.
Empire Casino, Leicester Square
Leicester square is famous for hosting film premieres at the Odeon cinema, but the Empire Cinema and Casino, standing just across the square from the Odeon, have been standing for much longer, and are no less glamorous. Opened in 1884, the Empire is often a good place for celeb spotting late in the evening, and its two floors are filled with different games to play. With 31 gaming tables and 110 electronic machines, there’s plenty of variety and something for everyone.
The Empire is also home to a cocktail bar and an Asian restaurant. At weekends there are live DJ sets into the early hours, making it a great destination for people looking to let their hair down with friends. If you want to splash the cash, you can even hire the casino for a private event of up to 200 guests – but you’ll need deep pockets to afford the fees! For everyone else, the Empire gives you a taste of the life of the rich and famous.
Crockford’s Gentleman’s Club is London’s oldest casino, and it’s Mayfair address should tell you all you need to know about the kind of clientele that frequent its tables. Since 1823 it has been home to politicians, aristocrats, Army generals and rich merchants, all trying their luck at one of the poker, baccarat or blackjack tables. Even today, Crockford’s is for serious gamblers only and a lot of money changes hands on a nightly basis. A strict dress code is enforced, with tuxedos and formal wear the order of the day.
The smallest casino on our list, Crockford’s keeps its guest list exclusive as much to keep out undesirables as to ensure the building is never overcrowded. There are two VIP rooms, including a high-stakes gaming room which has the dubious honour of having seen the world’s largest casino loss of £11 million!
Genting Casino, Chinatown
Another small casino, but one with a more relaxed and inclusive atmosphere, the Genting Casino opened in 2013 right in the heart of London’s Chinatown. With only 13 tables and no poker on offer, you might think that it would find it hard to thrive, but the friendly atmosphere and the relaxed attitude to gaming has meant that the little casino has become incredibly popular. For anyone who is new to gambling games, it’s a great place to start. The staff are knowledgeable and always happy to help explain the games on offer, which are Baccarat, American Roulette, and Blackjack. Bets start at just 25p, meaning you can take it easy and just enjoy yourself, without having to worry too much about whether you’re losing all of your savings.
Of course, there is another option for Londoners wanting to play their favourite casinos games; they are all available online to play from home. When you don’t feel like getting dressed up or having to deal with the noise of the slot machine or the crowds of other people, being able to log on from the comfort of your own home makes online casinos one of the perfect ways to spend an evening. One such site is bestcasinosites.me.uk
And with many bonuses on offer, like these Wink Slots free spins, you can make your money last even longer.
This is just a small selection of the many fabulous casinos that London offers, but each one on this list is a great place to start your gambling adventure in the capital.