With some 409 separate gaming properties at last count, plus countless bookmaking shops for sports betting, the United Kingdom ranks among the leading countries of the world for gambling. Almost every major town has at least one casino, and many cities, like Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, offer more than a handful of places to enjoy table games and slots. Why, London alone boasts 28 casinos, making the choice of just one place to play at a tough decision, indeed.
Hail to Caesars!
For Las Vegas style gaming, few venues can match the destinations that comprise London Clubs International (LCI), the group operated by Caesars Entertainment. The company ranks among Europe’s leading casino companies, with a diverse portfolio of entertainment and gaming venues, restaurants and bars. Great attention is given to high standards of service, customer care and a commitment to the environment. There’s also a Player Rewards program to recognize and reward loyal casino goers.
Among the LCI properties are the Playboy Club London, the Rendezvous Brighton, Manchester235 and the Golden Nugget in Piccadilly Circus. The group’s “Alea Casino” brand has popular branches in Glasgow, Leeds and Nottingham. And the Casino at The Empire in London is reportedly the busiest casino in the U.K., spread over 55,000 square feet of gaming space on two dramatic floors.
All Caesars properties aim at offering the glittering Vegas experience—many of them operating 24/7 with poker tables as well as blackjack, roulette and slots. A number have live music, while others feature some of the hottest local DJs. And most, like The Sportsman on the West End, have world-class fine dining, too.
Other Big Franchises
Another huge brand throughout the United Kingdom is Genting UK. In fact, it is reputedly the largest casino operator in the country with more than 40 properties located from Plymouth and Torquay on the south coast of England to Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. The company operates two distinct brands in the provincial areas: Genting Casino and Genting Club. In London, the flagship is Crockfords in the heart of Mayfair (read his bio here), accompanied elsewhere in the city by the Colony Club, Maxims Casino Club, The Palm Beach and the Genting Casino Cromwell Mint.
Grosvenor Casinos are well established as a brand, too. They have three dozen properties dotted across the U.K. Some venues—like the one at Yarmouth, which is located in the elegant Shadingfield Lodge, a grade II listed Victorian building once frequented by royalty—are true resorts. Others, such as the Gloucester Casino London, are 24-hour gaming spaces, with modern plasma-screen monitors for live sports action and gaming machines alongside numerous table games.
Another major operator of brick and mortar casinos is Gala Casino, with two dozen clubs and a customer base of over 1.2 million active members. Properties can be found in Bristol, Bournemouth and Cardiff, Liverpool, Aberdeen and Dundee. The company offers a loyalty scheme called Fortune, whereby cardholders earn points every time they eat, drink and play. Points can be redeemed for play at any table game or machine across the casinos, on food and drink, or exchanged for gift vouchers to use at more than 100 high street retail outlets.
Also in heated competition for U.K. gamblers is Mecca Bingo. As the name implies, bingo has been the company’s bread and butter game for more than 50 years, but slot machines are attendant at most of the nearly 100 affiliated locations. Even the smallest towns are familiar with the Mecca brand, from Andover, Ashford and Ayer to Watford, Wishaw and York.
Not for Everyone
The rare birds among land-based casinos in the U.K. are the true independents that cater primarily to high rollers. As such, they might be considered “popular” only among the upper strata of society. London’s private Clermont Club, for example, has no fancy boutiques or musical extravaganzas. It is open to members only, who come there strictly to gamble, sip vintage champagne and socialize with other well-heeled patrons.
Aspinalls London is another. It compliments 19 gaming tables with four restaurants that cater to the tastes of the privileged. Gambling is available 24/7, while the bar is open between the hours of midday and 3am. “Whales” carrying six-figure bankrolls are especially welcome.
There are still a few independent casinos that proudly compete for a less cosmopolitan crowd. The Broadway Casino in Birmingham, for instance, has been offering guests a huge range of gaming options since 2005, along with excellent food at its Mirage restaurant and a fine calendar of special events. Likewise, the Corinthian Club in the heart of Glasgow operates an upscale but unpretentious casino, with function rooms and a bustling events schedule.