United Kingdom Casinos

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Casinos in the United Kingdom 

The United Kingdom, also known as Britain, sits off mainland Europe’s north-western coast. Covering about 93,600 square miles, it’s made up of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, which many consider as countries within a country. The UK boasts a population of over 67 million people, with over 8 million of them residing in the capital city of London. Over 40 million tourists come each year to soak in the rich history and experience the sights and sounds. Gambling has been a popular activity in the UK for centuries and it generates billions of pounds sterling every year.

The UK as a Casino Gaming Destination

Of the 152 casinos that are scattered throughout the country, around 25 of them operate in London. Some of the most famous casinos in London include the Empire Casino, Crockfords, and Maxims Casino Club.  Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool also offer plenty of casino gambling as do several other cities in England. Victoria Gate Casino in Leeds is arguably the largest casino in England. The 51,000 square-foot casino features 220 gaming machines, 10 poker tables, and two dozen gaming tables.

Scotland doesn’t have nearly as many casinos as England, but they are still easy to find in Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen. Alea Casino in Glasgow is among the most popular in the country. In Cardiff, Wales, the Rainbow Casino and Les Croupiers Casino draw hordes of people while Swansea’s Grosvenor Casino offers a nice mix of table games and slots. The gambling landscape is a little different in Northern Ireland. There are several casinos in Belfast and a few other cities but they are essentially slot halls. The current gambling laws in Northern Ireland forbid table games. It doesn’t look like this situation will change anytime soon.

Except for Northern Ireland, casinos in the UK offer a slew of table games and poker rooms. While slot machines and video poker terminals are usually busy, you will always see people playing casino classics like:

  • Baccarat
  • Roulette
  • Blackjack
  • Three Card Poker
  • Casino War
  • Craps
  • Pai Gow

On top of gambling at land-based casinos, those in the United Kingdom can participate in many other legal gambling activities including online casinos. Betting on horses and greyhounds are traditional favourites while bingo and lotteries remain popular. Of course, sports betting is like a national pastime. It brings in over £650 million per year. Brits can place bets online or at any of the 8,423 land-based betting outlets.

Casino Gambling Law in the UK

The roots of casino gambling in the UK go back to 1828 when Crockfords opened its doors. However, it wasn’t a casino in the modern sense. Instead, it was a private club that mainly catered to the affluent. Dozens of similar establishments cropped up over the next several years. Casinos, as we know them today, didn’t start operating in the United Kingdom until the 1960s after the Gaming Act of 1960 made them legal. The UK’s first real casino, Casino Club Port Talbot in Wales, opened in 1961. It featured a bar, restaurant, and a dance floor. The gaming room had slot machines and a variety of table games. 

Casinos in the UK are open to the public, although there are a few smaller private clubs. Three groups operate most of the UK’s casinos. The Gala Coral Group operates 26 casinos while the Grosvenor runs 35. The largest operator is Genting Casino which operates 45 casinos. The Gambling Commission licenses and regulates every casino, betting shop, bingo hall, and lottery in the UK. The UKGC also regulates online gambling. 

The 2005 Gambling Act states that a person must be at least 18-years-old to gamble at:

  • Casinos
  • Poker rooms
  • Betting shops
  • Bingo halls
  • Adult gaming centres
  • Racetracks
  • Online

Fast Facts and Tales About Gambling in the UK

  • About 78% of adults in the UK gamble. This statistic includes the National Lottery. If you omit the lottery, the number decreases to 56%.  
  • UK residents have over 21 million online betting accounts making it the largest online gambling market on the planet.
  • Based on money bet versus money won, Liverpool, Manchester, and London have the best gamblers. Newcastle, Sheffield, and Leicester have the worst.
  • On average, women gamblers win more money.
  • The gambling industry in the UK grossed £14.5 billion in 2018. 
  • The UK’s gambling industry employs over 106,000 people.
  • There are 650 bingo halls in the UK.
  • There are 183,000 gaming machines
  • 2,757 operators have licenses issued by the UK Gambling Commission

Most bettors lose money. Nevertheless, the gambling gods have smiled down on a select few. One such lucky punter is Jonathon Heywood who took down a massive £13.2 million progressive jackpot on a mere 25 pence bet. At the time, it was the largest online slot payout ever. An unnamed player broke the record about a year later when he won about £16.7 playing the Mega Moolah online slot.

Eurojackpot is one of the most popular lotteries in Europe. In 2018, A 36-year-old woman named Christina pulled out her smartphone and bought a ticket. Her numbers came up netting her a cool £79 million. That win was the largest ever for an online bet. That makes Kyle Jordan’s £45,000 Premier League accumulator win look like chump change. 

Remember to gamble responsibly when you visit your favorite UK casino!

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