Land Based Casinos in London
As well as being by far the most interesting and complex city to visit, London also offers some great opportunities to gamble.
It is one of the main arts centres of the world and boasts some of the nicest restaurants on the planet, scenic parks and awe-inspiring architecture and design. Unfortunately, like Monaco, London has also become very expensive so, unless you are prepared to live very modestly, expect to pay top international prices.
The history of gambling in London goes back many centuries. The most famous club in town was Crockfords, owned by William Crokford and located on the prestigious St James’ Street, just minutes from Buckingham Palace. This casino still exists, but not under the same name. A new Crockfords club now stands in Mayfair, on Curzon Street.
William Crockford was such an icon in the gambling circles that when he died, just before a big race on which he had taken many thousands of pounds in wagers, his colleagues propped up his body in the top floor window of his club to reassure everyone that their bets were safe and would be paid. However, people speculated that his casino cheated players with rigged games-as has been suggested about other famous gambling haunts, even as late as the mid-1960s. In London you can bet your bottom dollar that it is pretty much fair and safe to gamble, since the British Gaming Board oversees all casinos with an iron hand.
In terms of gambling, London remains a Table Games casino town, as Slots are tightly regulated. There are few Slots in most casinos, but they are mainly limited to jackpots of £1,000, although there are plans to change these rules in the near future. Most Table Games start of £5 per bet (£2 per chip at Roulette), but the minimums are often increased in the evenings to £10, and sometimes even £25.
At the time of writing this article London boasts some 45 casinos, with more planned to open soon. In London there are two types of casinos:
Standard London Casinos
These are the casinos into which you walk, either without any identification, or once you have shown your passport or ID and enrolled. They tend to be the bigger more modern casinos, where the stakes are lower and the casino is busy day and night. Having said that, you will rarely find more than ten Roulette wheels, the same number of Blackjack tables, and perhaps one or two Three-Card Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker and Mini-Baccarat tables (or Punto Bunco, as it is known in the UK).
The Empire in Leicester Square is a mid-size example of such a casino; it also hosts the World Series of Poker London heat.
The Victoria (often known as the Vicky, or The Vic), on the Edgware Road, is most famous for its Poker Room and the very high standard games which are played there. Some of the best players in the country gather for high-stake cash games and London heats of big Poker tournaments. However, most days see a low-stake tournament game available to ordinary players.
The Golden Nugget in Shaftesbury Avenue, just off Piccadilly Circus, is packed with Chinese gamblers from nearby China Town.
All these casinos will generally offer you free drinks at the tables where you are playing (a tip of anything from 50p to £5 is appreciated by the cocktail waitresses). You may be able to get toasted sandwiches and other snacks served at the table. If you are a mid-stake bettor say, £25 per hand or higher-you can expect to be invited to eat at the casino restaurant. These restaurants are usually excellent, offering a wide range of cuisines to cater for the many different nationalities that gamble in London.[addtoany]