Recent years have been a turbulent time for casinos everywhere. The increasing popularity online gaming has seen to it that many people now choose to enjoy their favourite games from the comfort of their own homes – or anywhere else that takes their fancy.
This has been particularly the case in the UK. According to official figures released by the Gambling Commission the remote gaming sector was worth £6.4 billion between April 2021 and March 2022, a 12.4% increase on the corresponding 2019-2020 figure.
Despite this fact there are still many parts of the offline casino scene that remain in robust good health. These are predominantly in the country’s largest cities, inevitably with London leading the way.
Casinos have long been a part of the London nightlife scene with a number of them being truly iconic status thanks to their fame. So even though there may be a plethora of irresistible offers for gamblers from online casinos offering free bets to reward them for playing the appeal of places like the ones listed below remains strong.
Palace Gate in South Kensington is where you will find Maxim’s. The building that houses the famous casino was built in 1862 as a home for the eminent Victorian and friend of Charles Dickens, John Foster. Two floors of the mansion house have been given over to gaming and any visitor can’t help to be impressed by the many original features that include a very grand marble fireplace. Also very imposing is the glass-roofed library that makes for the perfect place for games of baccarat and blackjack.
John Aspinall was a very famous figure in the London gambling scene of the 1950s and 60s. Throughout the period his casino became a haunt of the famous and aristocratic members of London society including Sir James Goldsmith, the infamous Lord Lucan and many more. The Sultan of Brunei was also known to drop in whenever he was visiting the city. While John Aspinall died in 2000, today his name lives on here. You’ll find it located in a discreet Mayfair townhouse that you might never imagine, from the outside, houses one of the capital’s most famous casinos.
Visitors to Les Ambassadeurs are often struck with a distinct feeling of déjà vu on entering its Mayfair premises. That’s because it was immortalised by the very first James Bond film, Dr No, in 1962. It’s testament to its traditional approach that it’s still recognisable over 60 years later. Before its big screen appearance the building had once been the 19thcentury London home of the famous Rothschild banking dynasty. But today it’s a 100% up-to-date casino that has a stellar list of players including actors, sportspeople, and other celebrities.
For more than 100 years The Hippodrome has been an iconic landmark on one corner of Leicester Square. Over its history it has served as many places of entertainment including music hall, a theatre and the legendary night spot The Talk of the Town. Today, it’s a casino that that continues with this tradition by also including performances from many famous names in its cabaret-style theatre. The gaming rooms are laid out over three separate levels with the grand casino occupying the large ground floor.
Crockford’s lays claim to be the capital’s oldest casino having first opened back in 1828. Its first proprietor was William Crockford who opened the premises in St James’. Today its home is on Curzon Street. It has always been famous for the clientele that it has attracted – when not fighting the French the Duke of Wellington was said to have been a frequent visitor. It’s maintained its aura of exclusivity to this day, offering private gaming rooms where the champagne flows freely.
The glamour of Las Vegas is very much the vibe that The Empire aims to achieve. With a total gaming area of 55,000 square feet and in excess of 50 table games and 130 slots it’s certainly on a very grand scale. While most of the previous casinos described are all about exclusivity, The Empire is a little different. It’s a big tourist haunt boasting several restaurants and bars. That’s not to say it ignores its VIP visitors as the Dragon Lounge is reserved for players who demand a little bit extra.
Like a shark, the casino world needs to keep moving forward to survive and this is where the Barracuda fits in to our list. It may be in Baker Street but it’s a far cry from anywhere Sherlock Holmes would recognise thanks to its relaxed vibe, very liberal dress code and all-round contemporary ambience. It’s also packed with the latest casino tech for a totally modern experience.
So maybe now’s the time to get out and about to experience London’s casino scene for yourself. Win or lose, it’s sure to be a very rewarding experience.