There is a huge range of games available at the Hippodrome

The majority of casinos in the United Kingdom are fairly new additions. Following the Labour Party’s abandoned plans for ‘supercasinos’ in major cities across the country, smaller regional casinos were allowed in most city centers, with a mixture of chains and local providers opening up shop all over the UK. Although these newer casinos tend to be the ‘go to’ destination for the majority of weekend casino visitors, there are still some established casinos out there that have been open to gamblers for a long time in some cases. We’ve taken a look at some of the grandest and best, focusing more on heritage and fascinating stories rather than modern, standardized surroundings.

The Empire Casino, London

You don’t get much more exclusive than London’s Leicester Square, and the Empire doesn’t hold back in terms of quality or heritage. The Empire Casino is located in the same building as the historic Empire Cinema, which along with Odeon has hosted many film premiers over the years. Although the casino has been modernized, the layout of this grand old building hasn’t changed much since it was opened in 1884 and the regal feeling doesn’t get lost in translation.


The casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has a huge variety of table games and poker rooms, the Empire is a must-visit for London visitors and residents and is particularly busy on weekends, with plenty of celebrity spotting opportunities later on in the evening. The casino covers 55,000 square feet across two floors, there are 31 gaming tables including Blackjack, Three Card Poker, Punto Banco and American Roulette. There are also 20 Electronic gaming machines and 90 for Electronic Roulette. The casino is available for hire, it can host up to 200 guests, and they will then have access to a range of bars and all of the gambling facilities. The Empire Casino is just one of 11 properties owned by London Clubs International.

The Casino Club, Port Talbot, Wales

Although sadly this grand old casino is no longer in existence, the UK’s first (legal) casino was a glamorous destination featuring drinking, dancing, music and of course plenty of casino table games. One major benefit of this casino was its location, likened to Monte Carlo thanks to it being on the seaside, the casino opened at a time when Port Talbot was leading global industrial center and there was plenty of money flowing through the town. You’ll be pushed to get an experience like it nearby nowadays however, a sad close to a golden chapter in Britain’s casino history.

The casino was opened in 1961 by the gambling entrepreneur George Alfred James, it was hugely successful for a sustained period of time, however, after more than 50 years it was closed down. The demise of this brilliant casino only begs the question; how many more will follow a similar fate? Online gambling is on the rise, many choose to stay away from land-based casinos due to the huge array of games available online. We have sampled many online casinos; undoubtedly, the best experience was found at the highly-regarded 888casino.

Crockford’s has a strict dress code

Established in 1823, Crockford’s gentleman’s club had the finest chefs in the world, free drinks for members after midnight and everyone from British Army generals to politicians rubbing shoulders in an extremely exclusive, closed atmosphere that has an incredible history. Re-founded as a bridge club in the 1920s, blackjack, roulette and poker were soon added to the offerings and Crockford’s quickly became one of the best casinos in the capital. They label themselves as the pinnacle of clubs and casinos in London and the sophisticated surroundings offer American Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat and Casino Poker.

However, this club is for serious gamblers only, there is a strict dress code in the facility, a suit or tuxedo is required for men, while women must wear formal dresses or cocktail dresses. The club features two VIP rooms, a high stakes gaming room on the ground floor, and a first floor gaming room. Crockford’s is owned by Genting Group, headed by Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, the group has over 52 years of experience in developing, operating and marketing casinos. The casino is very exclusive and there is only space for a limited amount of guests at any one time. Interestingly, Crockford’s was famous for being the location of the world’s biggest casino loss, when Australian media magnate Kerry Packer lost a reported £11 million ($15,000,000) in a single session.

Although only recently converted into a casino, the Hippodrome’s heritage as a music hall and theatre is world famous, it was originally opened way back in 1900, with some of the biggest names in the history of music appearing the gigantic main room that is now the main gambling floor. From Ella Fitzgerald and Liza Minelli to Tom Jones and the Jackson 5, the Hippodrome still oozes class and is regarded as the most popular entertainment venue in London.

The casino was opened in 2012 by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. 2009 saw father and son entrepreneurs, Jimmy and Simon Thomas begin an extensive restoration project on the building. Investment on the building was reported as upwards of £40 million ($55,000,000). In January 2013, the casino was won ‘the best land-based casino’ award and Jimmy Thomas was given a life achievement award for his services to the gaming and entertainment industry. The casino offers three floors of live gaming, can host 2,000 people and is particularly famous for its poker facilities.