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Visiting One of London’s Major Casinos? Here’s What You Need to Know

The Casino at The Ritz

Feature by Jack Foley

LONDONA can hardy be compared to Macau or Las Vegas when it comes to casinos, but there is plenty in the way of that kind of entertainment around the UK capital.

Indeed, the likes of Les Ambassadeurs Club and the Casino at The Ritz London rival anything in the world for prestigious gaming. Of course, if you don’t have the means to play as a high roller at The Ritz, there are many other options like Aspers, Maxims and The Palm Beach Casino.

So, if you are visiting one of London’s 24 major gaming establishments, here’s what you should know:

Membership

Several major casinos like The Ritz Club and Clermont Club are for members only. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to go, but the requirement could be that you need to go along with a member or register beforehand. The best advice is to phone ahead or check the casino’s website.

Dress Code

Most casinos in London have a “smart casual” dress code, so there is no need to dress up like James Bond in a tuxedo unless you are heading somewhere like the Ritz.

However, “smart-casual” is a loose concept, and one that can be misunderstood. The best rule of thumb is to stay away from sports apparel – trainers, football jerseys, baseball caps.

Alcohol

Because of the hedonistic depictions of places like Las Vegas, there is sometimes a suggestion that anything goes at a casino. It really, really doesn’t. For a start, you are unlikely to be allowed in by the security staff if you are inebriated. Secondly, raucousness is likely to disturb the more serious patrons. There is nothing to say you can’t have a good time and enjoy a cocktail or three, but you should judge the atmosphere.

Casino Games

Most people know how to play games like blackjack, slots and roulette, and you can pick up the etiquette quite quickly. For more obscure games, perhaps have a look online on how to play beforehand. For example, you can check these rules on how to win in live baccarat, and there is lots of advice online on craps and other card games. In the end, if you are unsure on the night, simply ask the croupier for advice – they don’t bite.

Table Limits

Again, this will depend on which casino you visit. Something like the Hippodrome will have £1 minimum bets for blackjack and roulette table, whereas the Gold VIP Room at the Palm Beach Casino will have much higher betting limits. Slot machines can usually be played for a few pence per spin.

Comps
The comp culture of free drinks and perks that prevails in Las Vegas isn’t exactly on show in London, but you can snag a free drink or two if you are playing a lot. If you and your companions intend to spend a lot of money, then the best course of action will be to call ahead and let the casino management know that you would like some VIP treatment. It’s worth remembering that many of London’s casinos are affiliated with fine dining establishments, so you may get a free dinner out of it.

Tipping

Tipping in the UK is more discretionary than the United States or Canada, but money still talks. If you are winning a few hands, tip the croupier; if you want some preferential treatment or a free drink, tip the waiting staff. Money opens many doors in a casino, and you don’t always know where they could lead.