It’s safe to bet that dice have been thrown in London since the Romans arrived around AD 47. The soldiers’ love of gambling is even documented in the bible when they cast lots for Christ’s clothes. Cock fighting, chess, and dice were favourites in the middle ages. By Victorian times, London was awash with gaming houses. The Victorians cleaned up the streets but the clubs went underground, with access to only the highest rollers and richest men. Today, London’s reputation as a gambling destination prevails. If you have only ever played blackjack at an online casino, it’s time to take to the streets of the capital city and discover the casinos in London for real.
With a cocktail bar terrace that overlooks Leicester Square, the Empire Casino has definitely got one aspect nailed: location, location, location. Situated in the heart of tourist central, this modern casino boasts 55,000 sq ft of gaming space. The action is 24/7 and games in play include blackjack, American roulette, punto banco, three card poker, slots, and pai gow. There’s also a poker room with cash game buy-ins starting from as little as £25. The venue backs onto Chinese town but you can stock up on noodles at the in-house Fulushou restaurant. If you’re visiting Leicester Square, check it out.
The London Hippodrome, on the corner of Cranbourn Street, in the City of Westminster, has been an entertainment venue since its inception in 1900. It was a circus, theatre, and night club before entrepreneurs Jimmy and Simon Thomas took over the lease in 2009. In 2013, the casino was voted the Best Land-based Casino and its easy to see why. As well as three floors of gaming, there are circus and burlesque shows. Games in play include favourites like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and pai gow, as well as harder to find games like craps. The venue is a blast of entertainment. Some naughty, some nice, but all good.
Located deep in the heart of South Kensington, the Gloucester is a popular venue in the casino group. It enjoys a fantastic reputation for its food, as well as its friendly atmosphere. New members get a tour of the building and a complementary £5 match play. Games available include jackpot slots, blackjack, punto banco, and three card poker.
Break out the big money if you are heading to Maxims. It describes itself as ‘for the gentleman, by gentlemen’ and is situated in Kensington. The clientele are wealthy and private. Maxims caters for this. It was built in 1862 for John Forster, a friend of Charles Dickens. If you can take your eyes off the action on the tables, the architecture is stunning. The food is also a talking point at Maxims, where the kitchen specialises in Arabian, Chinese, and European cuisine. After dinner, you can spend a little time in the whisky bar sampling the 126 varieties on offer. It’s not for the feint-hearted but it’s a casino icon.
If you want to end your night on a financial high, the Sportsman, just off Oxford Street, is an unpretentious, friendly, casino where you can enjoy a few hands of blackjack in a relaxed atmosphere. Open until 6am every day, it’s a great place to wind down and win. Games in play include three card poker, blackjack, American roulette, and punto banco. The Sportsman’s award-winning restaurant Zaman is another reason to pay a visit.
If it’s luxury you’re looking for, this is one to bet on. Valet parking, high-end dining, and attentive staff all add to the exclusivity of this Knightsbridge-located casino. There are four roulette and blackjack tables, as well as three card poker and stud poker. If you want some high rolling action, ask for access to the Salon Prive. The Balcony restaurant serves up modern European and Arabic cuisine. If you don’t fancy anything on the menu, you can always pop to the Harrods food hall. It’s just around the corner.
No reviews of London’s casinos would be complete without a mention of the Ritz Club. This world-renowned private member’s club is as exclusive as it gets. Players can expect a dedicated concierge service and the very pinnacle of personal service. Games on offer are roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and three card poker. The game limits of £25 for a single hand of blackjack will have a lot of players reaching for the smelling salts. The easiest way to access the casino is to spend a night at the hotel. Be warned though: rates start from almost £1,000 a night. This is high roller heaven.
Crown Aspinalls: Founded by John Aspinall in the 1960s, and renowned as the haunt of the mysterious Lord Lucan, Crown Aspinalls is a private casino catering to the highest of rollers. Situated in Mayfair, the setting is opulent and exclusive. Games available include baccarat, blackjack, three card poker and roulette. Yes… this is exactly where you would find James Bond downing a dry martini.
The Palm Beach: Also located in Mayfair, the Palm Beach Casino is an inclusive venue with an art deco vibe and friendly attitude. Visitors can even book a complimentary learn to play session and master the fine arts of blackjack and baccarat. The venue operates 24/7 and has a variety of themed nights, including Arabian and Latino.
The Clermont Club: Berkeley Square in Mayfair is one of the UK’s most prestigious addresses and home to the Clermont Club. This is bespoke casino gambling at the very highest level. If your pockets are as deep as the Mariana Trench, and you want play blackjack or roulette in the company of a very rich oil sheik, the 300-year-old Clermont is the club for you.