The oldest casino in the UK could be shutting down for good as London is no longer considered an attractive destination for high-end tourists.
Crockfords Casino, which is quite popular for its royal and aristocratic clientele, has given the start of a 30-day consultation period with its staff, as it makes a final decision on the site’s future. The exclusive £80-million casino in Mayfair, which is property of Malaysia’s Genting Group, currently employs about 100 people who are now facing potential redundancy.
The iconic casino club, which was established back in 1828 by William Crockford, a working-class fishmonger, has experienced a significant slowdown of operation since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, the so-called “tourist tax” is considered responsible for deterring affluent visitors from visiting the UK.
The Mayfair casino, which turned its owner into one of the wealthiest self-made men in England, originally started operation as a private members gaming club for the most elite members of society. Crockfords Casino later took advantage of Brits’ fascination with heavy gambling over the 1800s, providing England’s upper class with a luxurious and sophisticated environment to enjoy themselves.
Once situated at London’s fashionable 50 St James Place, the exclusive casino moved to the heart of Mayfair, attracting high-roller customers from all over the world.
Crockfords Casino Could Become the Third High-End London Casino to Close
Crockfords Casino was involved in some drama, too. In 2017, the luxurious casino club managed to win an intense legal battle with professional poker player Phil Ivey who made an attempt to recuperate £7.7-million worth of winnings from a game of baccarat after the casino suspected that he could have been cheating. As Casino Guardian reported at the time, Ivey rejected all allegations of misconduct. The professional poker player succeeded in recovering his initial £1-million stake.
The iconic casino, however, has faced some tough times since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, which it mostly blames on the fact that London was unable to attract visitors, and most specifically, more affluent ones. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic cannot be fully blamed for this. Some of the responsibility for the lack of enough high-rollers in London could be cast on the aforementioned tourist tax, which eliminated the VAT-free shopping option for tourists in 2021, following the UK’s exodus from the European Union (EU).
Apart from that, the high-end casino facilities in London have also been hit by the 2020 decision of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to suspend the use of credit cards for gambling transactions.
In case Crockfords Casino closes, it would become the third high-roller-targeting gambling venue in London to cease operation in recent years, after the Ritz Club and the Clermont, both of which were forced to shut down operations as Britain’s capital lost out to other global gambling hubs.
According to reports, luxurious casinos in the UK have made an annual tax contribution of about £150 million to the country’s Treasury. They are also known for generating approximately £188 million for London’s economy, and additional tourism spending in Britain’s capital estimated at no less than £120 million.
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.