Arts + Entertainment

The History of Casino Gaming in the UK

From simple dice games using the knucklebones of sheep to wagering money on horse racing and sports, gambling has been a form of entertainment for hundreds of years. Today, with over 140 land-based casinos and numerous online casinos available in the UK, gambling is a growing industry. With the advent of sophisticated and innovative software and technology, the modern player has many opportunities to enjoy gaming. Let’s explore the history of casino gaming and how it shaped the landscape of modern gambling in the UK.

Before Casinos

Beginning with the Roman occupation of Great Britain around A.D. 43, class distinctions were established as to who could gamble. The rich were able to gamble and wager on horses, jousting matches, card games, and advanced board games. The poor were only allowed to play dice games and a few coin-based games. As more and more wealthy people engaged in gambling, the sport became very elite, and with two laws signed into place — the Gaming Act of 1845 and the Betting Act of 1853 — gambling of any kind was banned for the working class of the UK.

Land-Based Casinos

Image via Flickr by ianrobertson411

As gambling became more sophisticated, the wealthy began to visit posh clubs to indulge in gaming, and in 1828, Crockford’s opened as the first members-only gaming house. These gaming houses were run independently and with no regulations until the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 legalized casinos.

Modern casinos as we know them today began with the 1961 opening of the Casino Club Port Talbot by George Alfred James. This casino was the first to offer a fine-dining restaurant with a bar and dance floor, which were adjacent to the gaming room. Poker tables, roulette wheels, and slot machines were offered for people to enjoy. Slot machines were a fun and easy way for people to enjoy gambling, and the lights and sounds from them helped to enhance the gambling experience.

Today, the majority of modern casinos in the UK are owned by two companies — The Grosvenor Group and The Genting Group. The Grosvenor Casino Thanet near Kent and the Genting Casino Margate are both owned and managed by these groups. They feature poker tables, roulette, slot machines, and baccarat for the locals to enjoy. They also happen to have some of the best restaurants in Kent.

Online Casinos

Online casinos began to form after the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act was signed in 1994. The first online casino to appear in the UK was designed by William Hill through his betting service, Sportsbook. With the creation of Cryptologic, the trajectory of online casinos changed thanks to an easy and safe monetary transactional system.

While early internet casinos offered only a few games to play, today there are hundreds of games from roulette to craps to the highly popular slot machines. Regulated by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain, online casinos are growing strong in the UK and with the addition of Casino in Kent, locals can enjoy playing online slots, 3-D roulette tables, and more.

Gambling in the UK is fun, and as more and more people enjoy online gaming from the comfort of their homes or in luxurious land-based casinos, the gambling industry will continue to grow and evolve.

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