When you think about the word “casinos,” it’s most likely that a gambling epicentre such as Las Vegas or Macau will come to mind. Yet, what many UK players aren’t even aware of is that some of the best casinos in the world are right here in the UK.
I recently did a tour of Great Britain, taking in all four of the nations which make up our beautiful country. While I was travelling, I got the chance to stop off at some of the UK’s top casinos. I also played fruit machines in far too many pubs, but we’ll not get into that here!
After this experience, I wondered why the best UK casinos don’t get more press. I decided to do something about that by writing this article. These are the top UK casinos, what they offer players, and where to find them.
Genting Casino: York Place, Edinburgh
Edinburgh has some of the most beautiful buildings in the UK, so it’s not a huge surprise that this casino looks so phenomenal. When I approached it from after exiting my taxi, I felt like I was going into a castle or an ancient library rather than a casino.
Genting is one of the biggest casino brands in the UK. It has casinos in many of the major cities across the country, including Liverpool, London, and Manchester. Thus, a quality evening is assured if you get a chance to visit this one.
This casino has everything you might want—four roulette tables, 14 roulette machines, two blackjack tables, and a couple of poker machines. There are plenty of Novomatic and IGT slot machines offering jackpots of up to £10,000. And no, I did not win £10,000 while playing in this casino. Maybe you’ll have better luck!
If you love sports, you’ll be glad to know that there’s a live sports bar here, too. You can watch all the latest football games, boxing matches, and horse races here. I watched Joshua vs Ruiz while enjoying a burger and a beer (for £5) here. It was a great time, despite the result of the fight!
This is one of the best casinos in the UK and you can take a 3D tour of it here. Very cool!
Grosvenor Casino: Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff
Grosvenor Casinos is another well-known brand across the UK, and on my weekend trip to Wales, I got to check this place out. It’s not as impressive looking as the casino in Edinburgh, but it’s a lot of fun once you’re inside.
This is what I’d call an “entertainment” casino. It’s not luxurious, but it has everything you need for a cracking night out on the town—live music, sports on the big screen, and plenty of roulette, blackjack, and slot machines for casino players.
There’s a fully stocked bar, and you can enjoy gourmet pub grub. In fact, you can enjoy all kinds of cuisine here from vegan curries to pan-fried fish caught fresh from the Atlantic.
It’s also worth mentioning that this casino hosts regular poker tournaments. You can download the app to find out when the next game begins. I was here with my wife, but I imagine it would be a great place to have a hen or stag party!
Hippodrome Casino: Leicester Square, London
You didn’t think I could create a list of the best casinos in the UK without mentioning the capital, did you? London has to do everything bigger and better, and that’s what you get when you visit The Hippodrome.
The Hippodrome offers three floors of gaming. You can play baccarat, blackjack, roulette, several poker games like Pai Gow and Three-Card Poker, and you can shoot dice if you like. Of course, the Hippodrome has a large selection of slots machines as well. It won Best European Casino Operator of the Year in 2015, beating casinos in France, Malta, and elsewhere.
If you want to make a night of it, you can eat at the Heliot Steakhouse. It can seat 100 people, and the food is fantastic, but make sure you call ahead and make a reservation if you’re visiting on the weekend.
The Hippodrome also offers world-class entertainment (aside from the casino games). For example, you can witness a Magic Mike show if the notion takes you.
The Empire Casino: Leicester Square, London
It’s no coincidence that there are two epic casinos in Leicester Square, this is the entertainment hub of London. You’ll likely see a celebrity or two when you’re hanging out in this area on any given weekend.
This casino brands itself as the liveliest casino in the UK. It’s certainly lively. The place was at full capacity when I was there! It’s not so packed as to be unenjoyable, though. There’s plenty of room at the gaming tables and I didn’t have to wait once to play any of the slot machines. Roulette, blackjack, several poker games, and slot machines are all available.
If you’re a high roller, speak to someone at the casino and ask them to give you access to the Dragon Lounge. This “club within a club” is reserved for high-stakes players. It even has its own private dining lounge.
The Empire also has a great sports bar. With two big screens and 14 smaller ones, showing all of the important football matches and other sporting events, you won’t miss a trick while enjoying a few drinks here.
I was mighty impressed by The Empire, I have to admit. Miss it at your peril! It’s one of the best casinos in the UK!
The Palm Beach Casino: Berkeley Street, London
If live music and crowds of people looking to have a good time aren’t your thing, perhaps the elegance and style of this Mayfair Casino will suit you.
The Palm Beach offers a much mellower experience which is all about table games. You can play blackjack, roulette, and poker. It’s a much quieter affair than the others on this list, and it even offers private lounges if you want to host a party or have a business meeting.
Now, this being London, you won’t find a beach or any palm trees in the vicinity despite the name. However, you will have access to a gourmet restaurant and a stylish cocktail bar.
You get the picture… This casino is upmarket and not for the riff-raff! I felt a little out of place among the high rollers and London elite, but it was an interesting experience.
Why Is Northern Ireland Not on the List?
I made a conscious effort to include a casino from each country in the UK so that this list wouldn’t be England-centric. However, do note, there are no casinos in Northern Ireland—they’re illegal!
There are plenty of bookmakers dotted all over Northern Ireland, so there isn’t a problem with gambling, per se. In fact, I’ve never seen so many William Hill betting shops in one place. However, the Northern Irish government has never allowed casino gaming, and despite petitions from some operators and arguments that it would do wonders for tourism, it hasn’t happened yet.
I will mention that I did see at least one small arcade offering slot machines. It was called Oasis and was right opposite Belfast City Hall. It was offering “the casino experience”, but I didn’t go in to check it out.
How can Northern Ireland make laws which are different from the rest of the UK even though it’s in the UK? That’s another topic for another day! Google “devolved government” and you’ll have your answer.
Answering Questions About UK Casinos
If you’re a tourist visiting the UK, these questions will be of use to you:
What’s the Legal Gambling Age in the UK?
The legal gambling age is 18. You may be requested to present a driving license or passport to gain entry. Yes, that means if you’re an American visiting the UK, you can gamble a whole three years sooner than you can in Vegas!
Can I Smoke in UK Casinos?
Nope. Smoking is banned indoors all across the UK. Most of the casinos on this list have heated outdoor smoking areas. The upside is that you can bring your drinks and mingle with other players.
Do I Need to Declare What I Win in UK Casinos?
No. Gambling wins in the UK are tax-free for casual players. HMRC extracts its pound of flesh from casino operators, so you can keep 100% of what you win
Should I Tip Service Staff in UK Casinos?
Tipping isn’t a big thing here, unlike in the USA where it’s a necessity. However, it will certainly get you better service and the casino staff will appreciate it.
Is Gambling in the UK Safe?
Yes, very much so. The only hazards are the odd drunk lager lout and the usual dangers of transporting cash to and from the casino. Stick to the legit UK casinos listed above, grab a cab to and from your hotel, and you’ll be fine!
Based out of London, I began freelance writing for the UK section of GamblingSites.org in October of 2019. Having worked in the gambling industry for over 10 years, I now have the pleasure of adding this site to my list of accomplishments as a casino writer. ...
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