The History of Gambling in London


London is a favorite gambling destination for many pundits. The city’s rich gambling history started five centuries ago. King Henry VIII spent a lot of time gambling and playing dice. Many kings in ancient London had dedicated croupiers. Now, London has many betting shops and casinos. Read on to learn more about the history of gambling in London.

Gambling in London in the Seventeenth Century

One of the streets in Covent Garden is named after Sir Thomas Neale. He was a croupier to kings Charles II, William III, and James II in the seventeenth century. Charles II gave him some Thomas the power to oversee gambling in the United Kingdom capital in 1684. The croupier was in charge of shutting down illegal betting dens.

The Eighteenth Century

Many poor people became rich through gambling in the 1700s. So, social classes were dynamic. For example, an experienced player could play poker and win a jackpot, get formal employment, and move to a posh estate. Also, some extravagant tycoons would stake large sums of money, lose bets, and move to slums. Many London residents referred to gambling establishments as hell. The stock market first emerged during this period.

How Poverty in London Affected Gambling in the Nineteenth Century

The casino culture in London is diverse. The Duke of Wellington helped William Crockford to establish the first casino in the city in 1828. During this period, some middle-class families lost property due to gambling. Debtors chased some of them and they opted to relocate to other cities. People who lived in poverty tried their luck in gambling hoping that they would win huge sums of money and transform their lives.

The Legal Status of Gambling in London in the Twentieth Century

The Kray Twins were popular in the 1900s. They owned shares in Esmerelda’s Barn, a popular betting destination for tycoons. The twins made huge profits from the casino which had few day-to-day operations in the beginning.

Reggie, one of the brothers got imprisoned after a while. Ronnie, the remaining twin, became more committed to run the Barn after Reggie’s imprisonment. The management dreaded that he would ruin the casino. Thus, they offered him a weekly salary to stay away from the business. Ronnie didn’t accept the offer and the casino’s manager left. The gaming establishment continued operating as it attracted wealthy party boys and renowned celebrities.

London legalized gambling in 1960 and introduced the Betting and Gaming Act in 1961. Close to 1,000 gambling establishments were opened shortly after the new legislation was passed. Pubs and bars started installing fruit machines.

Gambling in London in the Twenty-First Century

The gambling industry in London has evolved since 2000. It comprises over 25 casinos whose styles range from Vegas-style casinos to exclusive casinos. London has betting establishments that suit the middle class and tycoons.

London is the largest city in the United Kingdom and gambling has been one of its main economic activities since the twentieth century. Mayfair District has the highest number of exclusive casinos in London. Many celebrities, business moguls and millionaires often visit the city’s high-end casinos. Also, several movies including James Bond have been shot in Mayfair district.