Up and down the country, more than in any other place on earth, betting is a prominent pastime enjoyed by many. This is reflected in the UK’s cityscapes – no matter where you find yourself, you will never be far from a bookie, betting house or casino.
In the last decade, Casinos have sprung up on the corners of cities all over the UK, with several operators vying for their slice of the UK gambling market. The would-be gamer can try their hand at hundreds of venues the UK over.
This proliferation of casinos in the UK has accompanied a metamorphosis in the gambling industry. For a long time, betting houses were small, perhaps uninviting establishments which offered a selection of slot machines and a smattering of gaming tables. This has changed completely. Casinos now almost universally boast a diversified offering of entertainment aimed at satisfying all comers, regardless of their interests and desires.
Crossing the hearth of the UK casino, visitors are spoiled by several ways to spend a unique evening. A well-stocked bar is guaranteed – with visitors often given the choice between a homely pub or a sophisticated cocktail bar. Dining options abound – casinos often will have a selection of à la carte dishes, fixed price menus, buffets and snacks. Casinos will often appoint renowned chefs to head up their kitchen staff, and it would be ill-advised to overlook your city’s casinos in search of a new culinary adventure. Live sports are a firm fixture, and of course there will always be the option to enliven the action by putting a little cash at stake. Of course, guests will be able to try their luck against the house at the tables, shoot for a jackpot at the slots and pit their wits against the sharks and the fish at the poker table.
Each casino will have a unique take on all of the above, and each city has an exceptional offering – Birmingham’s Resort World, Nottingham’s Dusk Till Dawn, Manchester’s 235 and Glasgow’s Casino at the Corinthian illustrate the strength of the industry all over the UK.
With such abundance, would-be casino clientele need a helping hand in navigating the well-populated industry. This page aims to take you on a tour of each and every casino found throughout the UK. We will go in-depth, so that seasoned bettors and novices alike can make an informed decision. Before taking to the tables anywhere in the United Kingdom, be sure to check this page for impartial insight into gambling opportunities and stakes available, dining options, bar offerings, regular events, live entertainment and everything else that lies within. Whether you are a beginner or a hardened cardsharp, this page will cover what to expect on a first visit, what membership may offer down the line, and what luxuries and concessions await high-rollers who play for big stakes.
Hesitate no more – to begin, select your city from the list below.
While exploring any major city in the UK you’re likely to notice three or four different casino venues situated in the centre of the city.
The first legal casino was believed to be The Casino Club in Port Talbot, Wales which was owned by George Alfred James who applied to the then Gaming Board of Great Britain for a gaming license. Back then, the license allowed James to open members only clubs with a limit to ten gaming machines per club. James had a particular model club in mind offering fine dining, live music, gaming machines and table games. 1960 saw the opening of the Charlie Chester Casino and the Golden Horseshoe both situated in London as well as the Kingsway and Grand Casino in Southport. Seven years later the Gambling Act 1968 was introduced which relaxed gaming licensing and resulted in several new members-only private clubs opening, one of which was the Clermont Club in London.
Gambling in the UK would remain the same in the form of a small selection of up to 10 slot machines and a selection of table games until the 2005 Gambling Act was introduced. The Act proposed that much larger “Super Casinos” could be built around the country however after review by the House of Lords the concept of the ‘Super Casino’ was quashed and a go ahead was given to offer new licenses for smaller venues around the country such as The Broadway Casino in Birmingham and Leo in Liverpool.
With no further legislative obstacles to overcome since 2005, the gambling industry continues to flourish. The online market has boomed, with a deluge of providers for betting and gambling of all varieties entering the fray. Would-be casino goers can cut their teeth from their own living room, playing for pennies or building a bankroll at virtual versions of blackjack, roulette and a whole host of other games.
Rather than eating away the market share of land-based casinos, this growth in the virtual space has come alongside the expansion and success of traditional betting houses. This should come as no surprise. While online rooms have come a long way in mimicking the action seen at the table games and machines in casinos up and down the UK, this is just one part of the puzzle. The experience of going to a brick and mortar casino goes well beyond this – venues up and down the UK are now diversified entertainment resorts. Though punters may come for the frenetic energy of the casino floor, they will stay for the attentive service, fine dining and myriad entertainment options available at each venue.
The formula for a successful casino established back in the 1960s has stood the test of time. A strong food offering is a universal feature of casinos up and down the country. Dining is not just a complement for the action at the tables, but an enticement in its own right – many casinos proudly appoint renowned chefs from all corners of the globe to head up their kitchen staff.
Exclusive members-only clubs lay on the lavish menu options that you might expect, universally promising divine indulgence. However, those who would be stifled by the rarefied air of Crockfords and the Ritz can find fine dining in any city of their choosing. Restaurants such as James Martin Manchester (of BBC Saturday Kitchen Fame) in the Manchester235 Casino offer à la carte, seasonal menus which have ranked among the best in the country. Hou Mei, housed inside Genting Casino in Birmingham’s Chinatown serves some of the highest rated Asian food in the city.
In short, don’t dismiss your city’s casinos in pursuit of new culinary adventures – hidden gems lie within.
The quintessential gambler is poised with chips in one hand and a drink cradled in the other. Those who work up a thirst as they strategize against the house will no doubt find refreshment on the casino’s drinks menu.
The bar is where the impeccable service found at most casinos is most obvious. Those seeking a rest from the tables will find luxury and leisure at the range of bars and lounges available across the board. Those who don’t want to abandon their hot streak at the tables will have their needs tended to without moving a muscle.
Whether you hanker for a soft drink, a refreshing beer, a fine champagne or an inspired cocktail, your casino barman will have it served up and brought to your table. While high rollers will often be able to sneak away from the tables, gaining access to private rooms offering style and intimacy, many casinos emphasize the relaxing, welcoming atmosphere of bars. First time gamblers will feel right at home, and people who prefer not to play will nevertheless find merrymaking and revelry, with casinos often having several different options to cater to all tastes and occasions.
In Las Vegas, a night at the tables can begin after an evening at the theatre. The UK’s gaming houses are beginning to compete. Leicester Square’s Hippodrome has its own theatre which from November on will play host to Magic Mike Live – fans of the exhilarating Hollywood movie will know what to expect and will not be disappointed.
Live entertainment does often accompany the betting action. Sports bettors can have a flutter on the match of their choice and retire to the lounge to watch the action unfold live. However, don’t be surprised to see live music and DJs, open mic nights, stand-up comedy, cocktail classes and more on offer at your casino – it’s not solely for the gamblers.
More than you might have imagined, the UK’s gambling venues are catering to a wide audience. Their offering goes far beyond the casino floor. Guide to London Casinos aims to help you navigate the market, offering impartial in-depth reviews on the majority of casinos in England, Scotland and Wales, covering not only gaming options and poker, but also food & drink, events & offers, promotions and reward programs.
In gambling, few images are as emblematic as the Ace of Spades dealt alongside the face card – more often than not, the Jack of Spades which gives the game its title. Blackjack is of mysterious beginnings, though most agree it has its roots in 18th century France. Needless to say, it has stood the test of time and today locks horns with Roulette for the title of the most popular casino game.
Blackjack legends make up some of the best-known examples of gambling lore. To name just two, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology famously assembled a team of mathematicians, beating the house across Las Vegas. Don Johnson took Atlantic City Casinos for $15 million, betting $100,000 or more a hand at three different casinos over a six-month period.
Why is it so popular?
In Blackjack, the action comes thick and fast. At most casinos, players can play more than one hand at once and each hand presents a new decision to be made. Players can stick, twist, double their bet or surrender with a simple hand gesture. After just an hour or two at the tables, to an unversed observer, you would seem to be a seasoned veteran of the game.
The simplicity of Blackjack adds to its allure. The rules are uncomplicated. Cards are played face up, the player is pitted against the house, the closest to 21 without going bust wins. Basic Blackjack strategy is easy to learn and implement, and when properly executed, players can reduce the house edge to less than 1% relatively straightforwardly (depending on the rule variant in play – see below). This thin house edge leaves Blackjack as the table game where the player has the best chance of walking away a winner against the house in the short term.
However, do not be duped by this simplicity. High-level Blackjack play at nosebleed stakes is an exercise in mathematical precision, incredible feats of memory and intimidating negotiation with the casino. In the long run, the outcome in Blackjack does not come down to chance, and skilful players may be able to gain an advantage.
Initially, Blackjack was a simple game played with one deck of cards and a simple wagering structure. However, in 1956, the game was solved. House edge was cut so slim that casinos had to adapt to stay profitable. Since then, several variations of Blackjack have risen to prominence online and in land-based casinos alike. There are too many to list, but there are some key rule variations that players would do well to be familiar with.
Blackjack pays 6:5 – A cursory glance at a traditional Blackjack table will tell you that Blackjack, or a perfect 21, pays 3:2. Bet £100, win £150 – simple enough. One nefarious rule change, more prominent in the USA than the UK, is that Blackjack pays 6:5. In other words, bet £100, win £120. Steer well clear of tables offering 6:5 on a Blackjack winning hand.
Six deck shoes, eight deck shoes, continuous shuffle machines – Counting cards, dramatized in Rain Man and satirized in The Hangover, is the most notorious of blackjack strategies. Though often mistakenly considered to be illegal, the behaviour will not get you locked up. Nevertheless, it could get you blacklisted from any casino where the floormen happen to catch you trying.
To combat the strategy, casinos stopped dealing from one deck of cards, and began to deal from a six-deck, and then an eight-deck shoe. Against all odds, card counters still found a way to raise their edge, and many casinos now use continuous shuffle machines, so punters cannot keep a count.
Dealer hits on soft 17 – In Blackjack the Ace can be worth 11 points or 1. Because of this, hands which include an Ace are called soft hands. Traditionally, the dealer would stand on a soft 17 (an ace with additional cards totalling 6). Nowadays, casinos often rule that dealer must hit a soft 17. This is a subtle change, which adds slightly to the house edge. If possible, look for tables where dealers stand on soft 16.
Insurance – When the dealer has an ace showing, there is the chance of a blackjack. Players can protect their initial wager against this, by placing an insurance bet. If the dealer does indeed have blackjack, the insurance pays out at 2:1. If the dealer does not, the house wins the insurance bet and the hand continues as normal. Instinct-based players who live and die by their gut feeling may like to put down insurance from time to time. In general, it is a losing bet.
Dealer wins ties – In standard Blackjack, ties result in a push – the bet is returned to the player. In some rare variants of Blackjack, the house keeps the whole bet in the event of a tie. If you want a fair chance at a return on investment, avoid this like the plague.
Splitting and Doubling – The most experienced players can maximize their profit through strategic splitting of paired hands and doubling of bets. Casinos will often restrict a player’s options in splitting and resplitting – especially on pairs of Aces – and will only allow doubling on certain totals. In general, these restrictions have a small negative impact on a player’s expectation of leaving victorious.
In normal play, Blackjack pays out at even money or at 3:2. These are not exhilarating odds. By contrast, a bet on any one roulette number pays out at 35:1, and one winning bet would all but assure a successful night. Players looking to strike gold at the Blackjack table can play in progressive jackpot games. Here, an additional wager is made alongside each hand. Over time, these extra bets culminate in huge jackpots which are awarded to players who chance upon unusual hands – three aces of the same suit, or three sevens totalling 21 are common examples. Mostly, each individual jackpot bet is not considerable in size, but a jackpot win guarantees an abundant payday.
Small wonder that Blackjack is ubiquitous across the UK’s 150 plus casinos. Options abound, but don’t let that intimidate you. Guide to London Casinos aims to let players know the best venue near them to enter the fray.
As you are ushered in the front door and step on to the casino floor, sensory overload is certain. Different gamblers are seduced in different ways – the cheers and jeers as fate is surrendered to a roll of the dice in Craps, the suspense as the Roulette ball skitters from red to black, or the sharp, collective inhale as the dealer flips his whole card over at the Blackjack table. But for some, it will always be the warm neon glow of the Slot Machines.
The slots are synonymous with casino play. The clacking of the wheels as they whir, stopping one after the other, the cherries, pots of gold and lucky number 7s taking their final position and sealing – a players fortune. Until the next spin, that is.
Slots have come a long way since their inception back in the 19th century, but the premise remains unchanged. A huge portion of casino revenue is made at the slot machines. Here, we will explain why the slots are so well-loved, and which of the different types you can expect to come across at a casino near you.
Why are slots so popular?
The unversed in gambling may feel some apprehension about staking palpable amounts of money on table games they haven’t fully grasped. Blackjack and Roulette come with minimum bets, complicated odds and tough decisions. Slot machines don’t present these dilemmas. With minimum bets starting at pennies, you can make a little go a long way and still have a chance at banking a huge win.
Slots are a great way to relax – slide your coins in to the machine, it lights up to welcome you, and you are ready to go. Each player is on an even playing field, and opportunities to gain an advantage are rare. This can lead to nights of camaraderie between row upon row of gamblers, or a quiet evening of satisfaction and entertainment.
With no dealer to hurry you along, you can also play at your own pace. The methodical player can study the reel at his or her leisure, whereas the dedicated jackpot grinder is free to load up a whole wall of machines, max out the paylines (see below) on each one, and watch the wins roll in and the coins tumble out.
Variety is also key to the success of slots. Many may love the vintage feel of classic one-armed bandit, but the restless will always be able to find a differently themed machine, or a style they haven’t played yet.
While there are endless themes for slot machines taken from movies, music, TV and anything else creative minds may dream up, almost all fall into one of two categories – the classic three reel slot, or the more modern five reel slot. The difference between the two lies in their simplicity.
Three reel slots are as straightforward as it comes. They often offer only one payline, which means one way to win – the straight line across the middle of the three reels – think of the emblematic Triple 7 Jackpot image. Some three wheel slots may offer up to five paylines, but even so, play on a three reel machine will be more measured and deliberate than on one of its frenetic five reel cousins.
Five reel slots are often more eclectically styled, departing from the classic fruit machine aesthetic. Along with this visual flare comes an extra level of complexity. To start with, rather than the maximum of five paylines, five reel slots’ paylines typically number up to 50, with some machines running into even bigger numbers – this means more ways to win, and a potential for wagering more credits and more cash on each spin.
Some slots choose the number of paylines for the player each time, but most will give the player the option. This decision adds a strategical intricacy to five reel slot play, which is intensified by the myriad of outcomes from each spin – you could win on several paylines at once, be granted free additional spins or gifted a bonus multiplier for the next spin. Far from the sedate and orderly one-armed bandit, five reel slot play can quickly get very frenetic.
Percentage Return To Player, Slot Volatility and Compensated Machines
When settling in at the casino, feel free to choose the machine that most appeals to you aesthetically. Players who want to be slightly more calculated, however, can consider these two figures.
Percentage return to player is easy to calculate. In fact, it is often displayed on the machine itself. What this number means is how much the machine pays out in the long term for every pound wagered. For example, if a machine has a 90% return to player, and a player bet £100, they could expect to get back £90 in the long run. Nevertheless, over a single session, they could strike gold or go home empty handed, which is where the thrill lies!
Volatility is harder to calculate, but an observant casino goer will make a good estimate. High volatility slots pay out big jackpots, but infrequently. Often, five reel machines will work this way to add to their inherent excitement, and use the promise of huge wins to attract crowds. Three reel slots often pay out more frequently, but have smaller jackpots.
The final ponderance is whether the machine is compensated or random. Random machines will have pay-out probabilities that never alter, whereas compensated machines will vary pay-outs as a result of recent outcomes. Compensated machines offer you a chance to identify a machine on a hot streak, or a machine which has not paid out and is ripe for a jackpot! There is more than superstition to identifying the right slots!
These jackpots offer the best opportunity for a lottery-winning, life-changing score from a slot machine. Often, every machine in a casino will contribute towards the total, sometimes they are built even across several different venues. Every time someone takes a spin on qualifying machines and does not win the jackpot, money is added to the total.
These jackpot totals can and do run into the millions. Casinos are sure to proudly display the current total within sight of the qualifying machines. When it gets big enough, it’s time to jump in.
We hope that you feel ready to jump into the action and give the wheel a spin. Guide to London Casinos offers reviews of the slot action available at casinos all over the UK.
UK Casino Reward Programmes
The upper echelon of the UK’s gambling houses are member-only clubs. To walk their hallowed halls, a prospective punter must pay the membership fee or obtain the recommendation of an existing member. These elite organizations aside, the majority of UK Casinos have open-door policies. Amateurs and veterans alike are welcome to try their luck at the tables, to dine at the restaurant or to enjoy a drink at the bar with no membership obligations.
With that said, casinos which welcome all comers will often offer a membership option. If you plan to make the casino a regular stop on your social calendar, it is worth signing up. Many casinos will keep track of your play and your winnings for you, and with every bet you make at the table, every drink you buy at the bar, and every meal which is served to you at the restaurant, points will accumulate on your account.
Many of the casinos in the UK are part of national and international groups: Genting Group, Caesars Entertainment and Grosvenor Casinos (part of the Rank Group) are prominent examples. This means you can gamble up and down the country, accumulating reward points as you go. Those punters who are loyal to any one of these groups will prove the greatest beneficiaries of the casino’s largesse.
As seen in other industries (think airlines), these rewards programmes are typically tiered. Where occasional gamers may get a discount on their food and drink, high-rollers will see their faithfulness compensated more lavishly. On offer at different venues are personal casino hosts, pampering at luxurious spas, plush parties thrown in the casino’s VIP area, free tickets to events and shows and even complimentary multiple-night stays at properties across the globe.
Once you have joined your preferred venue’s rewards program, accumulating points is simple. Hand over your player’s card when you pay the bill at the bar or in the restaurant, pass it to the dealer before you play at the table, or insert it into machine operated games to be assured full credit for your custom.
There are so many different venues to choose from across the UK. Before you decide which one to make your regular dealings with, take a look at their rewards program. Each casino’s webpage proudly totes the comps that you can rack up through regular play and custom, so be sure to check online. To whet your appetite, we’ve had a look across the programs of a selection of the UK’s gaming providers.
Genting Casino Rewards
With 42 sites open for business, Genting is the one of the more prolific providers of land-based gaming in the UK. When it comes to finding a venue to accumulate and spend points, members of Genting Rewards are spoilt for choice.
Joining up is just a matter of requesting a card at reception. The kiosks at Genting properties let you check your balance and spend your points.
Across the UK, Genting members can eat, drink and gamble to accrue points. These points will earn them more spins at the slots, more action at the tables and discounts of food and drink bills.
Throughout the year, Genting offer promotions exclusive to rewards members. Information is available at the kiosk in your local venue.
Grosvenor’s loyal players can accumulate play points through their action at the tables. How many points you earn correlates directly with how much you wager at the tables.
As with Genting’s scheme, points earned can be redeemed on the casino floor and in Grosvenor’s bars and restaurants. However, here Grosvenor’s programme differentiates itself.
Grosvenor has gone to market with a fully multi-channel gaming offer, so points can be earned and spent online as well as at physical venues. If you can’t make it to the casino, you can keep accumulating points at the Grosvenor Online Casino from the comfort of your own home.
Faithful Grosvenor players can head over to the loyalty section online to cash their points in for online play or exchange them for gifts from the Grosvenor Casino catalogue.
High-volume players will be invited to Grosvenor’s Gold Card Club. Members benefit from special offers and exclusive events.
The very upper strata of Grosvenor gamers qualify for the VIP Black Card Club. These elite few are assigned personal representative at Grosvenor’s land-based casinos and will accumulate points at a faster rate. Not just anyone may join their ranks, the Black Card is granted by invitation only.
Caesars is a brand that will be familiar to all gamblers, with Caesars Palace sitting among the most emblematic venues on the Las Vegas Strip. High-rollers drawn to the Las Vegas lights can use the Caesar’s Total Rewards Program to get them over there.
Once you are in the programme, each bet you make accumulates points to help you move up through tiers. Regular gamers may make Platinum Tier, but VIPs can ascend to Diamond, and then to the highest Seven Star Tier.
Caesars puts on frequent events for its VIP members, but perhaps the biggest draw is a stay at any of nine Las Vegas properties. World Series of Poker aspirants will no doubt be familiar with the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, with Paris Las Vegas and Caesars Palace also on the list.
While stateside, regulars at Caesar’s UK properties can continue to accumulate points and transfer them back and forth to be redeemed in the country of their choosing.
Hippodrome Casinos Ltd
The Hippodrome Casino illuminates Leicester Square every night of the week. It offers its very own Rewards Card to all comers. New members will be granted a Gold Card, which entitles them to discounted meals at Heliot Stake House – a Promised Land for the meat eaters among you.
International travel is granted to Diamond and Platinum card holders. Those who make a second home at the Hippodrome are offered discounted travel to Club Liberté in the Seychelles, and three complimentary nights’ stay at the D Hotel in Las Vegas along with a contribution to their air fare.
The Hippodrome’s Black Card is a key to the city for Londoners. In additional to the international travel offering for Diamond and Platinum members, Black Card holders can have an annual birthday bash thrown at the Hippodrome itself, can access the Hippodrome’s Premium Box at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and are entitled to a bi-annual pampering at Beauty & Melody and Ted’s Grooming Rooms in London.
Roulette dominates the casino floor. Along with Blackjack, it is the most recognizable of table games. Every gambler you know most likely has stories of nights he or she spun his bankroll up and left a winner, and nights where his or her chips circled the drain.
Likewise, most casino goers will have their superstitions, their lucky numbers and betting systems that have helped them to land a big score. Legends of big Roulette wins loom large in the gambling world – Charlie “Monte Carlo” Wells broke the bank in Monaco more than a hundred years ago, Ashley Revell let his life savings ride on red back in 2004 and walked away a winner.
Be that as it may, and try as they might, no one has come up with a system to beat Roulette. In the long run, the house always wins. Don’t let that dissuade you from a night of fun at the tables, though.
Why is Roulette so popular?
There is something palpable about the tension of the game. The whirring of the wheel is hypnotic, and the suspense is tangible as the ball slows and skitters from red to black, odd to even, the collective inhalation and communal gasp as each game reaches its conclusion. Winners celebrate, and losers commiserate. Until the next spin.
Roulette is simple to grasp, but keen gamblers will always look for new betting lines to take and inventive sequences to come out on top. Initiates might lean towards a straight bet – choosing one number and hoping for the best. Journeymen can declare to the croupier that they would like to bet on “orphelins by one, voisins du zero, one and the neighbours” and the croupier will dutifully spread his chips across the betting board. The novice can take solace as his odds of winning are not diminished by his lack of knowledge of the Roulette board’s more elaborate bets.
Betting structures in Roulette allow for a gambler to express him or herself. Conservative players who enjoy frequent, smaller wins may take on outside bets which will win often and pay out modestly. An aggressive gambler who enjoys the soaring highs and wince-inducing lows may prefer to place inside bets for infrequent but immense scores.
There is a sense of camaraderie in playing Roulette, even compared to other games where the player is pitted against the house. Anxiety can run high at the Blackjack table, and altercations may happen as the actions of one player directly affect the cards dealt to other players. Not so in Roulette. Wins can be mutual, and losses too.
Timelessness is another of Roulette’s attributes. It has stood unchanged for hundreds of years. The whirr of the wheel and the blur of red and black will transport a gamer back in time to when the casino was a playground reserved for society’s elite and the height of exclusive sophistication in entertainment.
Roulette has its beginnings in Europe and crossed the Atlantic in the 19th century. Its appeal was huge in America, but betting houses were discontent with their win rates. Thus, they sought to raise their edge in the game and so take money off gamers more quickly. To this end, they added a second house slot to the Roulette wheel – the double zero (00) slot. Variations of the game with this double zero dominate throughout the USA and have found some popularity on this side of the pond.
Be wary of this. With the double zero on the American Roulette wheel comes double the house edge. In the long run, the house should profit £5.30 on each £100 you bet. This does not compare favourably to the £2.70 the house stands to gain in European, single zero roulette. To make your money last longer, shun American-style Roulette tables in favour of their European counterparts.
In pursuit of the best possible Roulette games in the UK, look for games offering French rules. These are the most generous to the player. A spin landing on zero would normally be a catastrophe for outside bettors, as it results in a loss on almost all wagers. However, French Roulette, landing on zero allows you to recoup half of your bet, or leave it on the table – en prison – to be won back on the next spin. These games offer the greatest odds to gamblers, and the chance to make your money go further.
With all said and done, Roulette is a classic game to be enjoyed by novices and masters alike. It offers exhilarating and suspenseful action and is available on casino floors all over the UK. Check our Guide to London Casinos to plan out your next night at the wheel.