The oldest casino in the UK has ceased operation for good as London is no longer able to attract many high-end tourists.
Following an extensive consultation process launched by the venue’s bosses in September 2023, Crockfords Casino – best known for its exclusive royalty and aristocracy clientele – shut doors after spending almost 200 hundred years in the gambling business.
The iconic Mayfair spot, which the gambling giant Genting owns, has employed 100 people, who are currently facing redundancy or are being transferred to the group’s other casino venues. The president of Genting Casinos UK, Paul Willcock, described the closure of the £80-million casino site as “the end of an era”. As explained by Mr Willcock, a combination of factors had eventually put the high-end casino venues in London at a disadvantage so they could no longer be worthy rivals to other global marketplaces. This, eventually, led to an unsustainable future for Crockfords Casino in its Mayfair location.
Unfortunately for the legendary casino, it has faced serious difficulties after the beginning of the pandemic, which its owners have mostly blamed on London’s lack of ability to attract high-roller customers. The tourist tax, which eliminated VAT-free shopping for tourists in 2021, at the time when the UK exodus from the European Union took place, was also one of the reasons for Crockfords Casino’s troubles.
High-End Casinos in the UK Hit by Covid-19 and Tourist Tax Effects
Since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, businesses in the UK have been facing some troubles while the so-called “tourist tax” is also blamed for discouraging many affluent visitors from coming to the UK.
Crockfords Casino was established in 1828 by William Crockford – a working-class fishmonger who managed to become one of the most affluent self-made men in England. Originally, the casino, situated at 50 St James Place in London, was a private-member gaming club hosting the most elite members of society.
At a later stage, the business managed to successfully take advantage of the rapid increase in gambling’s popularity through the 1800s. The venue provided England’s upper class with a sophisticated environment to gather and gamble. As a result, Crockfords Casino became a popular destination for aristocracy and royalty members and moved to the very heart of Mayfair – a move that resulted in the venue attracting not only local affluent gamblers but also high-rollers from all over the world.
Unfortunately, quick success is not the only thing Crockfords Casino became famous for. In 2017, the place made headlines after winning a legal battle with the professional poker player Phil Ivey, who tried to recover winnings estimated at £7.7 million from a game of baccarat after some suspicions that the popular poker player could be cheating occurred.
Phil Ivey denied all allegations of misconduct at the time and managed to recover his original stake of £1 million.
High-end casinos in the UK made tax contributions worth around £150 million every year to the Treasury. They also generated about £188 million for London’s economy and no less than £120 million in additional tourism expenditures there.
Crockfords Casino is not the only luxurious casino destination that has been facing trouble attracting high-roller customers. In the last few years, a number of casinos, including The Clermont and The Ritz have been forced to shut up their locations as London fails to compete with other gambling hubs across the world.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.