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Britain’s Oldest Casino Looks Set to Close Doors

Penny September 29, 2023

It’s the end of an era for London. The world-famous Crockfords Casino, the country’s longest-running exclusive gaming club is to close permanently, bringing to an end a nearly 200-year legacy. This is a huge blow to a city that prides itself on its glitzy nightlife and gaming options. Could London be losing its appeal to high-roller gamblers and glitzy socialites? Or is this just another development in the country’s recent de-liberalization of its once-prosperous gaming industry?

Britain's oldest casino, Crockfords flag

For such a historic venue to be bowing out of the game would suggest a change in how Londoners and visitors to the city interact with it. While it may not be of much disappointment to the average resident of the capital, losing an iconic piece of history is always a sad day in the ongoing story of any city.

195 Consecutive Years of Existence Could be Lost

Crockfords was established in 1828 in St James’ Place and is now housed in the wealthy district of Mayfair. According to the Daily Mail, its establishment was a stratospheric success story for a working-class Londoner. William Crockford, a fishmonger by trade, defied expectations when he created his own venue that went on to make him a very wealthy man. Now, though, the casino operated by Genting Gaming looks like it could be on its last legs, offering a sad bookend to an aspirational story that gave the hard-working cockneys in the city the dream of becoming one of London’s high-flyers and being able to rub shoulders with the wealthy elite of one of the world’s most significant metropolises. 2023 post-Brexit Britain isn’t as big a deal as it once was for those with the money to make cities their playgrounds. London is struggling to attract the sort of tourist money and investment to maintain the illustrious venues it once did.

Genting has begun a 30-day consultation period with its 100 members of staff who are now at risk of redundancy. This comes on the back of the company struggling to find investment that will keep the business afloat and profitable in a difficult period for business in the city. Many leaders in industry have pointed to the fact that Britain leaving the European Union has led to the abolition of tax-free spending for visitors from outside of the trading bloc. Reuters reports that this has pushed non-European visitors to visit other destinations still in the EU, such as Milan and Paris, instead. Given that the UK also shares a land border with a member state, it’s no surprise that many will take their money elsewhere. This leaves the gaming group with a dilemma as it sits on an £80 million property that perhaps holds more value than the potential revenue from continued operation. 


A Sad Trend for London’s Prestigious Venues

In isolation, the news that the oldest casino in a city is to close is disappointing enough. However, when a trend of closures begins to appear, that disappointment must turn to concern for an industry that once offered so much to the local economy. The Ritz and the Clermont have closed their doors in recent years, and the latter did so in the wake of controversy that also encompassed Crockfords. The Financial Times reported that some of Mayfair’s casinos had become embroiled in a shocking racism scandal that cost businesses both in reputation and in fines. Crown Resorts had to pay out £20,000 in restitution to one of its staff who had taken them to court based on discrimination experienced in their London venue. This is all indicative of an industry that is struggling to stay relevant in a world that is often seen to be predominantly frequented by a demographic out of touch with the modern world.

It’s sad then to see an industry that could act as a cornerstone of a city’s economy struggle to keep up with a world that appears to be leaving it behind. Instead of modernizing, both in terms of adopting technology in an environment that has shifted largely to the online casino and in terms of its outdated viewpoints, the high-roller London casino landscape appears to lack the foresight to keep the lights on. More than anything, this is disappointing for its staff and those who will be affected by job losses. If these casinos can’t be saved, it provides a sad end to a centuries-old part of London’s lifestyle. However, some would say that it’s time it happened if recent developments are indicative of an industry-wide problem. Either way, the city is losing a small part of its history.

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