Britain's oldest casino in Mayfair may close for good
Britain’s oldest casino set up in the heart of Mayfair in 1828 by a working-class fishmonger who went on to become one of Britain’s richest men may close for good as it fails to attract wealthy tourists
- Crockfords Casino employs around 100 people who are now facing redundancy
- The future of £80m site will be decided as it starts 30-day consultation with staff
Britain’s oldest casino could be closing its doors for good as London fails to attract high-end tourists.
Crockfords Casino – best known for its exclusive clientele of aristocracy and royalty – has kicked off a 30-day consultation process with its staff as it decides on the future of its £80m site.
The exclusive Mayfair spot – owned by gaming group Genting – employs around 100 people who are now facing potential redundancy.
Business has slowed since the pandemic while the so-called ‘tourist tax’ is blamed for putting off wealthy visitors coming to the UK.
The casino was established in 1828 by a working-class fishmonger – William Crockford – who later became one of the wealthiest self-made men in England.
Crockfords Casino – best known for its exclusive clientele of aristocracy and royalty – faces an uncertain future and could close for good after failing to attract wealthy tourists
It has kicked off a 30-day consultation process with its staff as it decides on the future of its £80m site. The exclusive Mayfair spot employs around 100 people
It was originally a private members gaming club for society’s most elite, which was located at the fashionable 50 St James Place in London.
Crockfords monopolised on the craze for heavy gambling raging through the 1800s, giving England’s upper crust a sophisticated environment to flutter.
READ MORE: Scrapping tourist tax ‘would boost the economy by £10BILLION, support jobs and provide net gain to the Treasury’
As it grew in popularity, Crockfords Casino later moved to the heart of Mayfair – attracting high rollers from across the globe.
Yet with high stakes, comes high drama. Crockfords made headlines in 2017 when it won a legal battle with poker player Phil Ivey who tried to recover £7.7m of winnings from a game of Baccarat after the casino became suspicious that he could be cheating.
Ivey denied any allegations of misconduct in the strongest terms and he recovered his initial £1m stake.
But the historic casino has fallen on tough times since the pandemic, which it largely blames on London’s inability to bring in visitors – especially those willing to splash the cash.
This can be partly blamed by the tourist tax, which scrapped VAT-free shopping for tourists in 2021 when the UK left the EU.
The Mail launched its Scrap the Tourist Tax campaign in April to give the economy a much-needed shot in the arm.
The country’s biggest businesses have backed the campaign – with Harvey Nichols, Marks & Spencer and British Airways among 350 brands to have signed an open letter to the Chancellor calling for a rethink.
Swedish tennis player Bjorn Borg plays backgammon at Crockfords Club in London’s West End in 1974
The casino was established in 1828 by a working-class fishmonger – William Crockford – who later became one of the wealthiest self-made men in England
Crockfords won a legal battle in 2017 with poker player Phil Ivey who tried to recover £7.7m of winnings after the casino became suspicious that he could be cheating. Ivey denied any allegations of misconduct and recovered his initial £1m stake
Last month the boss of rival Grosvenor Casinos owner Rank Group warned that Middle Eastern high rollers are choosing Paris and Milan over London, holding its venues in the capital back.
READ MORE: US visitors shun London shops and spend their cash in other European cities because of the tourist tax, data finds
Casinos such as The Ritz and The Clermont have both been forced to shut up shop in recent years as London loses out to other gambling hubs across the globe.
But Crockfords has also suffered from more industry-specific issues, which have included rules about who can gamble with credit at casinos.
Although the government have promised modernisation plans as part of the gambling white paper, many have said this has not come fast enough for casinos.
Paul Willcock, president of Genting Casinos UK, said: ‘Crockfords in Mayfair has been affected by a combination of factors that have put London at a competitive disadvantage compared to other international markets.
‘We will explore all options during the consultation period and no decision will be made until the views of our staff have been heard.
‘We highly value our employees and we are committed to our duty of care to them. None of our other casinos are affected in any way by this process and we will not be commenting further whilst this consultation is under way.’
High-end casinos in the UK contributed around £150m a year in tax to the Treasury, as well as generating £188m for London’s economy and at least £120m in additional tourism spend in the capital.
Source: Read Full Article