UK’s Oldest Casino Crockfords Faces Uncertainty Amid Waning Patronage

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The venerable Crockfords Casino, the self-proclaimed oldest gaming institution in the UK and undeniably among its most opulent, teeters on a precipice of uncertainty. The Genting Group of Malaysia, the casino’s current proprietor, has commenced a 30-day consultation process with its team to determine the casino’s future.

A hidden gem, this esteemed club, patronized by England’s aristocracy and later by Arab oil magnates, is feeling the squeeze as wealthy punters are increasingly giving it a miss.

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Paul Willcock, president of Genting Casinos UK, issued a statement indicating that Crockfords has been adversely affected by a “combination of factors” that have made London a less competitive option compared to its global counterparts. He emphasized that no resolution will be brought to the table until the insights of the casino’s approximately 100 employees are considered.

“In our role as employers, our staff hold immense importance and we are duty-bound to them,” Willcock expounded. “This process currently underway will not impact our other establishments in any capacity and we have no further remarks to share at this time.”

Should Crockfords cease operations, it will be the third elite London casino to do so within a short span, succeeding the Ritz Club and Clermont, primarily due to a scarcity of high-stakes gamblers making their way to London.

In his last month’s earnings conversation, the UK’s largest casino group’s topmost official, John O’Reilly, observed that the Middle Eastern big-spenders who previously filled the coffers of London’s casinos have now turned their attention towards Paris and Milan.

This shift was partly driven by the abolition of the duty-free regimen by the UK government which previously allowed foreign patrons to reclaim the 20% VAT on their UK purchases. This scheme ceased in 2021 post the official Brexit. Moreover, a ban on gambling with credit cards issued by the Gambling Commission in 2020 has amplified the blow to London’s luxury casinos.

Established in 1828 by intuitive fishmonger William Crockford, Crockford’s had an infamous reputation as Europe’s notable gaming house and the bane of many an extravagant noble. The casino’s talent for swindling Britain’s privileged class led to Crockford’s emergence as one of richest self-made individuals of his time in England, a remarkable feat in a period where social mobility was uncommon.

Today’s Crockfords is somewhat a rejuvenated entity. The original club shuttered in the early 1870s and saw a relaunch in 1928 as a bridge club that later embraced casino games. This resurrection throws some ambiguity on its claim of being the UK’s oldest gaming club.

While the fate of Crockfords remains in the balance, larger trends in the world of casinos are shifting the spotlight from traditional institutions to the virtual world. An increasing number of players are switching to online platforms. Over at the West Island Blog, we have compiled a comprehensive list of top online casinos of this month for our Canadian readership. Favoring gambling platforms like these could be an evolving trend we witness in casino-goers as they navigate their way through the rapidly changing landscape of the gambling world.