When a man is tired of London’s casino scene, he is tired of life.
People have been gambling in London since before the city was founded. Archaeologists have unearthed dice dating back to when the Romans held sway. More recently, Henry VIII got such a kick out of gambling that he gave over many rooms in his royal residencies to gaming.
Casinos as we know them today are a relatively modern London development, however. It was only with the introduction of new legislation in the early 1960s, that gaming houses were able to emerge from the underground.
Given that the industry had so long been dominated by the criminal fraternity, it should come as no surprise that the city’s first casino was owned and run by the notorious Kray twins. It wasn’t until aristocrats such as John Aspinall and James Goldsmith entered the fray that casino-going and casino-ownership became thoroughly respectable endeavours.
With gambling laws having continued to slacken, London is now home to over 20 casinos, the best of which can stand side-by-side with the continent’s finest facilities. Not that these are the only gambling options open to Londoners. Race courses, greyhound stadiums, a raft of football teams and boxing clubs, hundreds of high-street bookmakers – the city is, and always has been, a superb place in which to exercise your right to bet.
And now that some of the wealthiest people on the planet have set up home in London, the city’s casino scene is set to explode once again. While once you had millionaires like Aspinall and Goldsmith, now you have billionaires such as Roman Abramovich and Evgeny Lebedev. And since these men and their ilk like nothing better than to prowl the city’s gaming floors, you can expect the level of action the venues service to grow and grow.
It’s not all good news, though. Look through the following list and you’ll see that old favourites such as The Connoisseur and The Golden Nugget are no longer with us. By the same token, much loved gambling haunts such as the Walthamstow and Catford greyhound stadiums have been put to sleep.
It would seem that, just like the gambler, the gambling house is at the mercy of chance. For the time being, though, the odds on London continuing to become one of the world’s casino capitals look very good indeed.