There is a common misconception that the UK doesn’t have any good casinos. However, this really could not be further from the truth. Whilst UK casinos don’t compare with the glitz and glamour of their Las Vegas counterparts, that’s not their intention. Casinos in the UK tend to focus more on the gaming experience rather than visual bait, and so with lower stakes, a more relaxed experience and promotional offers for members, good casinos can be found in most UK cities, with turnover being in the modest tens of thousands of pounds, rather than millions as with their foreign equivalents.
UK casinos are not something that can be found in smaller towns. More stringent gaming regulations and councils opting to keep casinos out of their towns mean that players will need to go to a city to find a good experience. Small towns will often have entertainment and amusement arcades which are labelled as ‘casinos’; brands such as ‘Cashino’ are easy to spot. However, 99% of the time, these are nothing more than a small shopfront with a collection of slot machines inside. There are no table games, and payouts on all machines are legally capped at a £25 jackpot to comply with legislation. As a result, they are far from the best casinos, which will be looked at below.
Plenty of good casinos
The largest name in the UK casino community is arguably the Grosvenor chain. Found in most major cities, Grosvenor combine gaming with dining and drinking. From the onset, they are about an informal, yet professional experience. Dress codes are relaxed and jeans and trainers are not a problem. Similarly, unlike other chains, they cater very much to the beginners and casual gamers as much as they do the high rollers. For instance, Roulette tables offer a minimum stake of just 50p in their Bristol branch, and this is mirrored nationally. Blackjack tables offer a minimum stake of just £2 on some tables, and perks are easy to find; at least one table always offers a ‘golden chip’ so a player hitting a hand of 9, 10 or 11 will receive a free double down, and matching numbers qualify for a free split. This is difficult to find in any other competing UK casinos. Staff are only too happy to assist new players, as arguably most tables are filled with beginners and those just hoping for a bit of low risk fun. Bar prices for food and drink are reasonable and the casinos are open 24 hours (save for an hour’s cleaning ‘downtime’ at around 6am for those still awake!) ensuring that players can spend time on the tables all night without breaking the bank. Slot machines and video gaming are plentiful, and with the latter, it’s often fed in from the casino’s own tables, meaning a less confident gamer can play with others in the room without sitting in front of a live dealer.
The Rainbow chain are a relatively new addition to the UK’s best casinos, but again, they do a great job of catering to newcomers and casual players. ‘Beginner’ packages for corporate parties and similar mean that players can walk in with £20 and take advantage of a drink, a meal and some low stakes chips. Whilst perks are not as a free flowing as with Grosvenor, Rainbow do tend to cater more for those who want to sit at the table and play some informal, low stakes poker or blackjack. As a newer company, they do not feature in all cities, and only have four UK locations, but they are sure to feature more prominently in the future.
Gala Casinos are, along with Grosvenor, a well known UK name, and feature in most cities, including several in London’s fashionable West End. With a more ‘sleek’ look, anyone wanting to fit some gaming into their Saturday night on the town is probably familiar with this chain. Stakes are low, payouts are generous and smart, casual dress is the norm. Several locations were recently bought out and revamped by the fledgling Rainbow chain, but Gala still remains a firm player’s favourite.
The best casinos
For the more serious players, Genting offer several UK locations in a more formal setting. Table games typically require higher minimum stakes than their high street counterparts, and free play and perk options are not as forthcoming. Many tables will see a mix of new and experienced players, which makes for a great melting pot of commitment to the game, but it does also mean that newcomers can feel a little ‘rushed’ by the more serious players, and typically, table staff aren’t as keen to wait around and explain the rules of the game to the newcomers. There is also a distinctly more ‘Asian’ set of games; table and slot games can easily be found, but there are also mahjong and Pai Gow poker variants for customers wanting a taste of gaming from back home. All in all, Genting can be considered the ‘go to’ casino for more serious players who consider gaming less of a fun activity and more of a way to make some proper cash; after all, at Genting, the payouts are noticeably higher than in other chains, making up for the higher buy ins.
It’s worth noting that all of the above casinos are rated as the UK’s most common and most user friendly, but there are also smaller, independent casinos out there. However, all require players (even if visiting for their first time) to register as a member to comply with licensing requirements. Therefore no one casino is going to be quicker than the other for a casual player; however, once the membership process has been completed, all four chains provide a great, player friendly experience that trumps any online casino, and makes for a great night (or day!) out.