A Land-Based Casino Guide
The online casino market is one of the most vibrant and varied in the world, but we don’t do badly on land either. The UK land-based casino industry has been booming ever since 2005 legislation paved the way for so-called ‘super casinos’ – large scale gambling houses similar to those in Las Vegas. Today, the market has never been healthier. There are now more than 100 of these casinos spread all over the country. In this land-based casino guide, we’ll dig deep into the very best the country has to offer, from London to Glasgow.
The Most Famous Brick and Mortar Casinos in the UK Today
As part of our guide to land-based casinos, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best offerings in the UK today. The following casinos justify their fame in terms of style, service and the selection of games available. We’ve also considered extras such as restaurants, theatres and special features that you can’t get at an online casino.
Hippodrome Casino London
Spanning across three floors, the Hippodrome in Leicester Square, London, is one of the grandest casinos in the country. Featuring more than 45 traditional casino tables including roulette, blackjack, three card poker, craps and baccarat, it won awards for Best European Casino Operator 2015 and Casino of the Year in 2013. There’s also a 180-seat theatre in-house bringing the best jazz, swing, soul and cabaret artists to the stage. The casino’s steak house – The Heliot – offers a fine-dining and cocktail sipping experience to rival any other in the capital. There’s also an underground cabaret casino called Lola’s in the basement complete with dancing girls.
Aspers Casino London
Aspers was the first of the UK’s super casinos to be built after the law-change in 2005. Located at Westfield Stratford City, Olympic Park, it remains the largest real casino in the UK to this day. Featuring a 400-seat poker room, a 24-hour restaurant and a variety of party packages and events options, Aspers is one the big players on the London casino scene. The group recently won the Socially Responsible Operator of the Year Award in 2017. There’s also free live entertainment in the casino’s Sky Bar. One of its big draws is that it requires no membership, making it popular with tourists and visitors to the city.
Genting International Casino Birmingham
Formerly situated on Watson Road as Star City, Genting moved its midlands casino to the newly-built Resorts World Birmingham in 2015. The £150 million development in the city’s NEC is home a multitude of entertainment options: there are 50 shops, 18 bars, restaurants, a spa, an 11-screen IMAX cinema and, of course, the new casino. You can find Genting casinos throughout the UK, but few are as impressive as this one. The gaming floor is home to 31 casino tables and features American Roulette amongst other casino classics. There’s also an outdoor gaming area fitted with fire pits for keeping warm.
Manchester 235 Casino
Playfully written MANCH235TER, the five-star entertainment venue in the historic Great Northern Warehouse, Deansgate, is the north west’s standout casino complex. In a city which is not short of chain casinos from Grosvenor and Genting, Manchester 235 brings its high-end James Martin restaurant to the picture and its first-class poker lounge really sets it apart from the local competition. On the casino floor, expect to find expertly dealt Punto Branco and three card poker amongst the usual suspects. It’s also open 24/7 and has its own rewards and VIP programs to keep players coming back for more. And more. And more…
Alea Casino Glasgow
Standing tall in the Springfield Quay on the banks of Glasgow, the Alea Casino is a Vegas-style gaming venue complete with a waterfront restaurant and a sports bar. The venue is not only popular with classic casino players but with groups, sports fans and companies looking for somewhere glamorous to host events and functions. The games are delivered by Caesar’s Entertainment, the same guys who handle the tables at Manchester 235, and they’re top notch. There are also cocktail masterclasses, and special deals for hen and stag parties making the Alea one of Glasgow’s prime nightlife destinations.
Landbased Casinos Vs. Online Casinos
We, quite clearly, love online casinos here. There are so many advantages to playing online that a brick and mortar casino simply can’t match. When it comes to pure casino play, the online world wins every time. However, there is a caveat. The attraction to land-based casinos runs deeper than just playing blackjack or roulette. In fact, we’d go as far as to say more than half of visitors to real casinos go for things other than gambling. Bars, restaurants, shows, these are the social and cultural sides to land-based gambling houses that cannot be replicated online.
Land-Based Casino Chains
The UK high street is awash with globalised chains in the food, drink and fashion industries, and the casino business is no different. Chains offer security and consistency. You know what you are going to get when you visit a Starbucks. It’s safe, it’s predictable, and people like that. The UK casino chain also offer a similarly homely experience. Here’s a roundup of the biggest and best.
One of the biggest presences on the high street is Grosvenor. The chain, owned by The Rank Group, operates 55 venues located in major towns and cities all over the country. The casino brand was established in 1970 and has been expanding ever since.
In May 2013, Grosvenor completed its takeover of Gala Casinos to become the largest casino chain in the UK. The deal saw 19 of Gala’s 23 venues transformed and re-branded in Grosvenor’s image. In 2009, Grosvenor purchased the casino inside the Ricoh Arena complex in Coventry for £650,000. It now houses one of the chain’s most impressive venues.
The Genting group is actually Malaysian, but its presence in the UK land-based casino scene has been fast rising. The company was started back in the 1960s and is today headed by Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. The company also runs casinos and integrated resorts in Australia, the Philippines, and Singapore, in addition to its homeland.
Genting owns 47 casinos in the UK including, other than its own branded venues nationwide, Crockfords Club, The Colony Club and The Palm Beach. All of these gambling clubs are located in London, while Birmingham also hosts the Resorts World.
A much smaller chain in terms of number of venues, Rainbow Casinos focuses its efforts into four landmark sites in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff. As well as offering classic casino games and slot machines, Rainbow sells party packages and group deals. You can also book lessons in how to play roulette, blackjack or poker – along with drinks and snacks of course. The vibe might not be as fancy as The Hippodrome, but this is an intimidation-free casino experience that appeals to new players and those curious of the casino scene but put off by the etiquette and glam of the bigger and bolder venues.
The Most Famous Landbased Casino Around the World
The UK casino market is great, and the 2005 law gave us the super casinos we’d been longing for, but we are just babies in the market compared to certain other parts of the world. The biggest and best casinos lay outside of Great Britain. Let’s take a look at some of the best in the world. With so many great venues to choose from, we’ve taken our personal favourites from a variety of different countries.
1. The MGM Grand Casino – Las Vegas
Iconic. That’s the only word to describe the MGM Grand casino and hotel in Las Vegas. Opened in December 1993, the enormous venue remains the largest single hotel in the United States with 5,124 rooms. Spread across 30-floors, the casino includes five outdoor pools, rivers, waterfalls and live lion enclosures right on the casino floor. With more than 2,500 slot machines, and 139 table games, it’s easy to lose an entire weekend in this place.
2. The Bellagio – Las Vegas
Probably the most luxurious of all the casinos on the Las Vegas strip, The Bellagio is a no-expense-spared kind of venue. Fans of the box-office hit movie, Ocean’s Eleven, will recognise the eight-acre lake that sits between the main building and the strip itself. The fountains of Bellagio are a must-see for any Vegas visitor. Inside the venue, bourgeois guests can be seen enjoying the high-stakes casino games, dining in its world-class restaurants and sipping champagne in its integrated bars and nightclub.
3. Sands – Macau
The Macau region in East Asia is to China what Las Vegas is to the United States. The resort city is known for its glamorous casinos, and Sands is one of the most impressive in the area. Opened in May 2004, the 289-suite hotel and casino attracts some of China’s wealthiest players. The 229,000 sq/ft gaming floor features no fewer than 1,390 slot machines and 720 table games. An attractive three-tier loyalty program provides luxurious benefits to high rollers and regular visitors.
4. Crown Casino – Melbourne
Having initially opened in 1994 on the north bank of the Yarra River, Crown Melbourne didn’t really pick up steam until it relocated and re-opened on the south bank in 1997. From then it’s gone from strength to strength, and today offers one of the best casino experiences in Australia. The entire complex takes up 510,000 square meters and has plans to expand even further with construction starting on a fourth hotel in 2018. The casino itself features more than 50 poker tables as well as private poker packages for parties and events.
5. Atlantis Resort – The Bahamas
If you’re only going to travel to one luxury hotel and casino resort in your life, make it this one! The ocean-themed Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas is built around a 141-acre Aquaventure waterscape. The area houses both fresh and salt water lagoons, as well as water slides and river rides. The casino features 85 different tables games, including three card progressive poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The Royal Towers contain the Bridge Suite – at one time ranked as the most expensive hotel room in the world by Forbes.
Landbased Casino Etiquette: The Dos and Don’ts
If you’re planning on hitting the land-based casino scene it’s important to remember that etiquette is much more important than it is online. Follows the simple tips in this real casino guide to avoid any embarrassments.
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Landbased Casinos
- Do relax and chat to other players at the table
- Do make sure you understand the basic rules before playing
- Don’t place bets until the table is completely clear
- Don’t EVER place drinks on the table felt
How to Choose the Best Real Casino for You
Finding the best land-based casino for you can either be very simple, or kind of tricky. For many who live in smaller towns and cities in the UK, the decision more than likely comes down to Grosvenor or Genting. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but it’s worth checking out both to see which suits you best. If you live in London, Manchester or several other major cities where the choice is more varied, ask yourself the question: do I want to play casinos games in a comfortable environment, or am I looking for the whole package that comes with restaurants, bars and nightclubs too. Answer that, and you’re halfway to choosing the perfect brick and mortar casino for you. If you’re still on the fence on whether, feel free to use our top ranking of the best online casinos in the UK as a jump-off point.