Life post-2020 is definitely very different from life pre-2020. Many industries and regions have been affected and this – alongside London’s apparent lack of appeal to high-end tourists and the fact that online casinos has become more popular by the day – has led to the permanent closure of Britain’s oldest casino.
Crockfords Casino, which had become famous for catering to a more elite clientele – including aristocrats and royalty, finally ended its 195-year legacy in business at the end of October 2023. The decision to close it came following a recent evaluation of its future initiated by management the previous month.
The world-renowned Mayfair establishment, owned by the Genting gaming group, currently employs a workforce of 100 individuals who are looking at redundancy in their face, unless they can get a transfer to other casinos within the company.
The End of an Era
Paul Willcock, the President of Genting Casinos UK, declared that the shutdown of the £80 million Crockfords site was the end of an era. But what led to this sad decision?
According to Wilcox, “There’s a combination of factors that have placed high-end London casinos at a disadvantage compared to other global markets, leading to an unsustainable future for Crockfords in Mayfair,” he stated.
Business has slowed since the pandemic, and the so-called ‘tourist tax’ is being blamed for deterring more affluent visitors from coming to the UK.
A Historic Casino
Established in 1828 by a working-class fishmonger, William Crockford, the Crockford Casino later earned him the title of one of England’s wealthiest self-made individuals.
It started out as a private gaming club for the elite, located at 50 St James Place in London. However, it thrived during the 1800s gambling craze, offering a much more sophisticated setting for England’s upper classes to indulge in gambling.
To draw an even wider audience, Crockford Casino later moved to Mayfair, where it attracted high rollers from across the globe.
However, high stakes often involve high drama. In 2017, Crockfords made headlines by winning a legal battle against poker player Phil Ivey, who sought to reclaim £7.7m of Baccarat winnings he was denied amid suspicion of cheating. Ivey vehemently denied any wrongdoing and recovered his initial £1m stake.
The historic casino went on to face more hardships due to the pandemic, attributing much of the decline to London’s struggle to attract visitors, especially big spenders.
Then came the impact of the tourist tax, which meant no VAT-free shopping for tourists post-Brexit in 2021, which also contributed to this decline.
In recent years, other prestigious establishments including The Ritz and The Clermont have closed their doors, reflecting the fact that London may no longer be considered a preferred gambling destination.
High-end live casinos in the UK were significant contributors, generating around £150 million annually in tax revenue for the Treasury. Additionally, they contributed £188 million to London’s economy and at least £120 million in extra tourism spending in the capital.
Last Updated: December 7, 2023