Betting in London

Published: 02/04/2013

With a history dating back more than 2,000 years, the City of London has long been the focal point of economy, culture and governance in the British Isles. The ruins of Londinium, a civilian town created by conquering Romans around 50 AD, indicate that gambling was popular even then, as Roman legions were renowned for playing a dice and board game that was the forerunner of Backgammon.

Since then, London has played an important role in the development and spread of sports and gambling activities from jousting and archery to horse racing, dog racing, football and rugby. The Jockey Club first convened in the Star & Garter Pub at Pall Mall, London in 1750 before moving to its permanent home in Newmarket. The Football Association was formed in 1863, followed by the Rugby Football Union in 1871.

Four years later, the city got its own first-class racecourse, Sandown Park, followed three years later by Kempton Park. Bookmakers began popping up soon after, such as Ladbrokes, which began as a commission agent for horses in the 1880s and would grow to encompass more than 2,700 betting shops.

The 19th century also saw the proliferation of casinos in London, starting with Crockfords, opened on Curzon Street with the backing of the Duke of Wellington in 1828. It was soon followed by the Victoria Sporting Club on Wellington Street, and the Clermont Club on Berkley Square is a lasting testament to the elegance and splendour of those old Georgian clubs.

Today, London has no fewer than 27 casinos, many operated by huge corporations like Gala, with its Gala Barracuda Casino on Baker Street, Gala Casino Russell Square and Gala Casino Tottenham Court Road, all open 24/7. The company offers a loyalty scheme called “Fortune,” awarding points to cardholders 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.

Genting Casinos UK currently owns Crockfords in the heart of Mayfair as its flagship, accompanied elsewhere in the city by the Colony Club, Maxims Casino Club, The Palm Beach and the Genting Casino Cromwell Mint. London Clubs International (LCI), a group operated by Caesars Entertainment, owns the Playboy Club London as well as the Golden Nugget in Piccadilly Circus. The group’s Casino at The Empire in London is reportedly the busiest casino in the U.K., spreading out over 55,000 square feet of gaming space on two dramatic floors.

All Caesars properties aim at providing the glittering Vegas experience. Many of them operate 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 LCI properties, like The Sportsman on the West End, have world-class fine dining, too.

Grosvenor Casinos are also well established as a brand, with the Gloucester Casino London at Harrington Gardens, Grosvenor G Casino - London Piccadilly, and the Grosvenor Victoria Casino representative of their up-market gaming activities. Likewise, Aspinalls London is another top-end brand. 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.

Another upscale casino was launched in 2012—the Aspers Casino at Westfield Stratford City. It features a 65,000-square-foot gaming space with 242 gaming machines and 55 table and poker games. Its two bars, Sky and the Sports Bar, are open like the casino floor 24 hours a day. Similarly, the Hippodrome Casino London, which also opened in 2012 at Leicester Square, offers 51 gaming machines and 36 table and poker games 24 hours a day.

Elsewhere around London, the Crystal Rooms on Cranbourn Street have a 2,500-square-foot gaming space with 114 gaming machines, Napoleons Casino & Restaurant at Queens House on Leicester Square offers 13 gaming machines and 18 table games, and the Park Tower Casino London on Knightsbridge specialises in Blackjack, Casino Stud Poker, Punto Banco and Roulette, with 13 tables open daily from noon till 6am. The casino know as Les Ambassadeurs on Hamilton Place is open daily 24 hours, offering 14 gaming machines, 27 table and poker games, and one restaurant.

Mecca Bingo operates a bingo hall that features 48 gaming machines on Hackney Road, while Palace Bingo at Elephant and Castle has 2,000 seats for Bingo players open Mondays from 10am to 11:45pm, Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30am to 11:45pm, and Sundays from noon till 11:45pm. London also has a popular dog racing track, the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, open Fridays and Saturdays from 7:30pm until close; the property serves dinners at the Star Attraction Restaurant, too.

Published on: 02/04/2013

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