No one can deny that online gambling has grown beyond anyone’s possible predictions. Millions of Brits play online casino games or place sports bets every day. Its growth is largely down to the convenience for players. No longer do people have to physically walk to betting shops or go to a proper casino – it’s all done from the comfort of their home.
With all the talk of online gambling, what does this mean for London’s land-based casinos? This great city is home to many wonderful gambling establishments, but how are they faring against the tidal wave of online betting platforms?
Things are hard enough already, but there’s a new wave of digital casinos out there. Standalone sites are starting to enter the British market and hundreds of new independent casinos UK available on CasinoGam each year prove this. It’s creating a sector that physical casinos are struggling to survive in – as evidenced by what’s happening to some of London’s biggest and oldest casinos.
Britain’s oldest casino closes its doors in Mayfair
Areas of London are known throughout the world and carry a certain aura about them. Mayfair is one of these places, earning a reputation through being the most expensive place on a Monopoly board and backing this up in real life with a swathe of posh hotels and restaurants.
It’s home to plenty of iconic places, including the legendary Crockfords Club.
Well…that’s not strictly true anymore. It was home to the Crockfords Club until October 2023 when this fabled casino finally closed its doors. A report from TimeOut magazine noted that this wasn’t the first case of a big casino closing in London. Both The Ritz Club and The Clermont closed in 2020 and 2018 respectively.
What’s staggering about this particular casino closing is that it marks the end of the oldest casino in London. Scratch that – the oldest casino in the UK. Crockfords opened in 1828 and lasted 195 years, earning a total value of £80 million.
When a casino as prestigious as this is forced to close in London, you must ask yourself why.
Online gambling pulls punters away from traditional casinos
Data taken from the Gambling Commission’s telephone survey in September 2022 showed that 18% of adults gamble online and 18% gamble in person.
The initial reaction to this is positive from a land-based casino perspective. It means just as many adults are gambling in person as they are online, correct?
Technically, yes – but there are some massive caveats to consider:
- The 18% in-person figure doesn’t separate casinos from betting shops. It’s widely believed that the majority of in-person gambling is done at bookies rather than casinos.
- In-person gambling rates were double the online gambling rates a mere five years ago, showing a decline in one and an increase in the other.
In other words, we’re seeing a trend where more gamblers are being pulled to the online world instead of land-based casinos. A city like London is feeling the full effect of this – fewer people are going to casinos, so they’re shutting down.
As noted at the start of this piece, people like online gambling because it’s convenient. You can sit at home and don’t need to dress up or deal with security guards watching over your shoulder. Thousands of slots or table games present themselves – and you can receive bonuses or free spins while you’re at it.
Moreover, the rise of online gambling joins with another factor contributing to the decline of London’s physical casinos.
London’s casinos struggle to compete with glamorous overseas casinos
Before the online gambling boom, London’s casinos attracted lots of tourism and regular Londoners would visit them because they looked cool and fun. Now, online gambling has changed people’s perspectives on casinos. If you can gamble at home and win money, you need something extra from a land-based casino.
In short, people want a glamorous experience like they see in the movies.
London’s expensive casinos may look posh on the inside, but they pale in comparison to some of the world’s top establishments. If tourists or gamblers want a glamorous gambling experience, they’re more likely to travel to Las Vegas or Monaco.
It all boils down to this: there isn’t a huge place for casinos in London anymore. Some will continue to survive, but many more will follow the Crockfords Club in coming years. It’s a sad state of affairs and as of yet there are no signs of things turning around. Only time will tell, but for now, the rise of online gambling looks to be slowly killing London’s casino scene.