The first thing that hits you as you enter a land-based casino is the ambience. Most casinos in the UK have a wide range of slot machines, blackjack and roulette tables and other gaming sections. They are sometimes stylish and sometimes garish and most will offer a few drink and dining options. Playing at a land based casino is very different and not what you will experience when playing at an online casino (other than a glimpse of it when you play live dealer games). Land-based casinos in the UK are flourishing, with 147 casinos spread across the country as of September 2016.
The boom that UK’s gambling industry has experienced in recent years has been bolstered no doubt by a surge in the popularity of online gambling. This boom has also spurred healthy competition in the land-based casino sector. The launch of super-casinos, starting with the Aspers Casino in 2011, was an indicator that this industry is not shutting shop anytime soon. The £30 million Victoria Gate Casino, launched in October 2016 in Leeds, continued this trend.
Land-Based Casinos by City
This section gives you a listing of the major casinos in the UK by city. Run through this list to find the best land-based casinos near you.
Other cities around the UK worth mentioning include:
If you are a gambling man outside London city, Yorkshire is the place to be. There are 20 fantastic casinos to visit when you are there, with a majority of them being from two of the biggest operators in the UK, the Genting Group and the Rank Group.
When you are at the seaside resort of Blackpool on the Lancashire coast in North West England, make sure you visit the casinos there for some exciting gambling action. There are 6 casinos in the city, with one each from the Genting Group and the Rank Group.
Northampton has its share of casinos, like all other major English cities. There are 4 major casinos to visit when you are here.
Gaming Groups and Operators in the UK
There are a number of renowned gaming groups and casino operators in the UK. The major players in this field include:
- The Rank Group (LSE: RNK)
- The Genting Group (MYX: 3182)
- Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR)
- Gala Coral Group – Ladbrokes (LSE: LCL)
- London Clubs International – Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR)
- Aspers Group
- The Clermont Club – GL Ltd (GLL:SP)
- The Ritz Club
- Les Ambasseuders – Landing International Development Limited (HKG: 0582)
- A&S Leisure Group
Let us take a brief look at these renowned brands.
The Rank Group
The Rank Group is today UK’s largest gaming operator. Originally formed as the Rank Organisation by its founder J. Arthur Rank in 1937 with a focus on cinema and leisure, the Rank Group is now solely focused on the gambling industry.
The Rank Group currently operates in Great Britain, Spain and Belgium, with a total of over 3 million customers. It has a total of 154 venues and employs over 10,700 people as of 30th June 2016. Its largest market is currently in Great Britain, generating almost 95% of the Group’s revenue. Its 3 major brands are:
- Grosvenor Casinos
- Mecca Bingo
The Genting Group
The Genting Group is a $33.5 billion Malaysian conglomerate that was formed in 1965 by well-known Malaysian entrepreneur Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong. The parent company has 5 listed entities: the holding company Genting Berhad and member companies Genting Malaysia Berhad, Genting Plantations Berhad, Genting Singapore Plc and Genting Hong Kong Limited.
The Genting Group has an extensive presence in the UK gambling industry. All its 42 UK land-based casinos are operated by Genting Casinos UK, except for London Maxims, and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
Caesars Entertainment was formed in the USA in 1966 and is today the largest casino entertainment company in the world. Its iconic casino and leisure properties include Caesars Palace, Harrah’s and Planet Hollywood. It has been the home of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) since the past 40 years. Caesars Entertainment moved into the UK in 2006 and acquired 8 casino brands in the process.
Gala Coral Group
With over 1600 licensed betting offices, numerous bingo clubs, and a series of land-based casinos across the UK, Gala Coral Group is a big fish in the UK gambling industry. The founder Joe Coral, started his bookmaking business in 1926.
The Gala Coral Group completed a merger with Ladbrokes in November 2016 – the decision to merge was made in July 2015 – and continues to grow at a phenomenal pace. In October 2015, it sold off Gala Bingo, its bingo enterprise, to Caledonia Investments for £241 million. The group is currently expanding operations across Europe, with a major presence in Italy being one of the high points of the expansion.
London Clubs International
Also known popularly as LCI, London Clubs International is now a subsidiary of renowned American gaming behemoth Caesars Entertainment. It operates a number of casinos in the UK and also runs 2 casinos in Africa – 1 in Egypt and another in South Africa.
The Aspers Group
Aspers Group was first formed by the Aspinalls family and Crown Limited Australia. Aspers was the nickname of John Aspinalls, the founder of the Aspinalls Club in Mayfair, London. He was also the first to obtain a UK gaming license in 1962.
The Clermont Club – GL Limited
The Clermont Club in Mayfair, London, is one of the oldest, and most exclusive private gaming clubs in London. The home of Clermont’s Club has been around since 1745 when it was built by William Kent for Lady Isabella Finch, who was a member of the royal household of King George III. While its connections to gaming began was back in the 19th century, for more than 50 years now it has been offering discreet gaming services to members.
It is currently owned by GL Limited, a company that was earlier known at different times as GuocoLeisure Limited, BIL International Limited and Brierley Investments Limited. It was established in New Zealand in 1961 by Sir Ronald Alfred Brierley.
The Ritz Club
The Ritz Club in Piccadilly, London, is a high profile casino that is considered to be among the most exclusive private members clubs in the world. It is owned by The Ritz Hotel Casino Company and is located in the legendary Ritz Hotel, which was opened by Cesar Ritz, a Swiss hotelier, in 1906. The Ritz Club was at one time owned by London Clubs International, which was later acquired by Harrah’s in 2006, which in turn was acquired by Caesars Entertainment.
The main gaming salon at The Ritz Club is in what was earlier the hotel’s ballroom and has a range of exciting games that are available 24x7. There is also an award-winning restaurant and a bar with the finest collections of champagnes, whiskeys and cocktails.
Les Ambassadeurs Club
Les Ambassadeurs Club has been hosting aristocracy, diplomats and celebrities since the early 19th century. It was once owned by the Conyngham family and Leopold de Rothschild, who was the son of Baron Lionel de Rothschild. It was re-opened in 1991 and offers a number of exclusive features to members, including the largest outdoor gaming area in London – the Smoking Garden, private rooms, 2 exquisite dining areas and a gaming floor that is open 24x7.
Les Ambassadeurs Club was bought by Landing International Development Limited of Hong Kong in 2016 and is today a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
A&S Leisure Group
The A&S Leisure Group is a privately-owned family business with firm roots in working class Sheffield. It operates the reputed Napoleon’s casinos as well as greyhound racing tracks. The company was incorporated on 20th September 1968 as A&S Dance Promotions Ltd. and was later renamed to A&S Entertainments Limited on 31st December 1978, to finally become A&S Leisure Group in 1988.
They have been in business for over 3 decades now and have casinos in Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and London. They also host greyhound racing in their own racing stadium and hold poker tournaments and cash games for players in their card rooms.
Grosvenor Casino Group
Grosvenor Casino Group is part of the renowned Rank Group and controls 37 land-based casinos, 35 in the UK and 2 in Belgium.
Some of the popular land-based casinos in the UK include:
- Hippodrome Casino: Won the Best Casino Award in London and is spread across 3 floors.
- The Aspers Casino: One of the biggest land-based casinos in London.
- Les Croupiers Casino: One of the leading casinos in Cardiff, Wales and was established in 1968.
- Opera House Casino: The Opera House casino in Scarborough was the first privately funded casino in the UK after the passing of the Gambling Act in 2005. The casino is owned by Nikolas Shaw and was launched in October 2005. It had the British record for the most number of sign-ups prior to opening – more than 5000 members.
- The Broadway Casino: A leading independent casino in Birmingham that was established in 2005. It has a range of exciting games including cash and poker tournaments and a restaurant offering authentic Italian cuisine.
- Soul Casino: Part of the PB Devco portfolio, Soul Casino is considered Aberdeen’s most exclusive casino housed in a building that is a church conversion.
- The Corinthian Club: Housed in a building dating back to 1842 when it housed the Glasgow Ship Bank, the Corinthian Club is spread across 5 floors and offers games, food, beverages and a fantastic overall experience.
UK Casino Industry Statistics
The latest report tabled by the UKGC for the period of October 2015 to September 2016 highlights the growth that UK’s gambling industry is currently experiencing. The following are some of the key statistics listed in the report.
- Total Industry Gross Gambling Yield (GGY): £13.8 billion, up from £13.4 million reported till March 2016
- Overall Non-Remote Casino GGY: approximately £998 million, a decrease from the £1.15 billion for the period of April 2014-Mar 2015. Of the £998 million, £195 million was generated through 3,013 machines at land-based casinos.
- Remote Gaming GGY: £4.5 billion, up from £1.1 billion between April 2013 and March 2014 as a result of the 15% Point of Consumption tax.
- Total Number of Land-Based Casinos: 147 (1 lesser than in March 2016)
- Total Customer Visits to Casinos: 21 million (as of March 2016)
- Number of betting shops till March 2017: 8,788
- Number of machines in betting shops: 34,388
- Number of Land-Based Casinos in London: 37
- Land-Based Casino Revenues: £1.19 billion, a 19% hike.
- Over-the-Counter Wagering: £1.6 billion, a 2% hike.
- Land-based B2 Machines Revenue: £1.8 billion, a 3% hike.
- Biggest Super Casino in London: Victoria Gate – the opening ceremony took place on June 2, 2017
- 140 slot machines
- 100+-seat poker table
- 24 tables at the live gaming zone
- 80 electronic gaming terminals
- Large section of sports betting terminals
Land-Based Casino Regulation in the UK
All land-based and other gambling activities in the UK are regulated as per the available gambling laws by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). The UKGC was established in 2005 with the passage of the Gambling Act. It is an independent non-departmental public body that is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). Based out of Birmingham, it has a staff of over 290 employees (as of September 2016).
One of the vital pieces of legislation enacted was related to the point-of-consumption. This came into force in November and was responsible for regulating the entire gambling market in the UK. The UKGC regulates the different forms of gambling prevalent in the UK including, apart from land-based casino gambling:
- Manufacturers and suppliers of gaming machines
- Gambling software providers
- Remote or online gambling operators
- The National Lottery
The only gambling activity it does not regulate is spread betting, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The main functions of the UKGC, apart from regulating land-based casino gambling, include:
- Ensuring fair, open, and crime-free gambling.
- Protecting children from getting into gambling.
- Advising the central and local governments on the impact gambling has.
- Advising the central and local governments on ways and means to regulate gambling.
- Ensuring complete accountability among operators by getting them to meet the licensing standards set.
- Licensing operators as well as individuals who provide the different gambling-related facilities and activities listed above, including casinos, arcades, etc.
- Ensuring maximization of returns of the National Lottery to good causes.
The UKGC does not do the following:
- Directly resolve consumer complaints.
- Give legal advice for developing business models or ideas.
Gambling regulation by the UKGC is enabled by its collaboration with:
- Licensing authorities
- Organizations like the police and HM Revenue and Customs