I don't live that far from London and being a common-or-garden Slot Junkie
, I make occassional
forays into England's capital to have a poke around the casinos, do a bit of shopping and poker
around a few more casinos! This article for Slots Slots Slots
is aimed at
giving the casual visiting gambler an idea of the best London casinos
for a one-off
visit on a trip there.
Assuming you are heading to the West End and find yourself loitering around Leicester Square, Covent Garden,
Soho or Piccadilly and you don't want to travel far to have a play, then there are 3 casinos within a 10 minute
walk worth mentioning, two of which - Gala and Grosvenor - also provide their games online at
The casino I have - until recently - spent most of my time at is the Casino At The Empire
which is right on Leicester Square. You will also find the Grosvenor Casino
200 yards along towards
Piccadilly Circus, situated by the Cafe de Paris
. Although both offer a similar range of games and
are set over two floors, I'd say the Eppire is slightly larger but with the Grosvenor being set in an old theatre,
the latter has a nicer ambience. It is also a little less busy and that is partly because it has a less assuming
frontage and partly because it requires photo ID to get in (the first time). Empire is a "walk-in" casino
with no ID check.
The downside to Empire is that it can get very busy and attracts all types. It's generally good though and the
staff are friendly (it's run by LCI) and I enjoy playing there to be honest. If you want a slightly quieter
time then the Grosvenor is better. The slot games are similar in both although Grosvenor did have a couple
of WMS slots wen I was there last (April 2012). Empire is mainly IGT with a few Gaminators thrown in, the same
as at Grosvenor and most UK casinos to be honest.
More recently, Empire has seen some increased competition from The Hippodrome casino which opened in August
2012. This plush establishment is well worth a visit and like Empire, you can just walk in. It's been
done up superbly since it's days as Stringfellows and a nightclub and it's been attracting an
average of 4,000 punters a day since it opened. You can read my review of Hippodrome casino
on my SlotsUK website (along with in-depth reviews of other
London-based casinos I have visited).
Not far up the road near the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street is the Gala Casino
which opens onto the former and is attached to the St Giles Hotel. This is on one floor and although bright and
breezy (it actually has windows!) I found the atmosphere lacking on the evening I was there. I was also a bit
disappointed to see 8 of their 20 slots were Cleopatra
! Two would surely have
been enough. This Gala isn't a patch on the Gala Barracuda Casino
over on Baker Street
(Mayfair). The ambience of the latter is very nice and it has a very nice comfy bar and the restaurant food
(and appointment overlooking the floor) was excellent.
Like Grosvenor Casino in Piccadilly, all Gala casinos require photo ID to be presented (first visit only) and a
loyalty membership card is issued which for slots players, is pretty pointless. This is my biggest issue with Gala
casinos: the slots don't take loyalty cards and they payout in pound coins! Pain in the neck and why they don't
switch to tickets I don't know.
The Gala Barracuda is a fine casino but if you are over in Mayfair then the Genting-owned Palm Beach Casino
an alternative. Of all the casinos I've visited in the UK, this is the plushest by a distance. You feel like
you are under-dressed in anything other than shirt and tie but - like all UK casinos - the dress code isn't
that strict: I went in jeans and polo shirt and it was just fine. Once again you need to present photo ID on the
first visit and get a card.
The layout is on one floor with all the table-games in the middle and slots round the edge. The membership card
is also the way you store your money on the machines so don't lose it! It's a bit confusing at first and I had
to ask someone how it worked but once you have done it once, it's easy enough. The restaurant looked nice
(with Mayfair prices to match!) but I didn't eat there and to be honest, being slightly out the way and a bit
"posh" for me, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to to return. Definietly one for the discerning client!
Last but not least is arguably the best but with one downside: location. Aspers Casino
first casino in London (possibly the UK even) to get a Large Casino
licence with the benefit of being able
to provide more tables and electronic games. It has 150 slot machines from IGT, Novomatic, Barcrest and
WMS and is easily the best choice for slots players. But Aspers is over in Stratford, East London - a 20 minute
tupe journey from central London on the Central
As you'd expect, Aspers is the biggest casino in terms of physical size too and it sits above the Westfield
Shopping centre with views over the Olympic Park to the Stadium. It has a Sky Bar and restaurant and large]
outside balconies for smokers/summer evening drinks. Journey downstairs and you have the Westfield Food Court
with lots of food choice too. You can walk-in to Aspers Casino without photo ID although (like all
London casinos) you would need it for cashing out big wins over £1,000 should you be so lucky.
Of all the London casinos I have visited, Aspers would be my first choice if I had time for the
30 minutes each way needed to get to Stratford. It gets busy on weekend evenings but the number of games
available means you are generally fine. If I was looking for somewhere quick and easy then either
the Empire in Leicester Square or Grosvenor Casino just along towards Piccadilly would get my trade. If I was
trying to impress someone then the Palm Beach wins for opulence but if I was wandering aimlessly over
Mayfair-way and looking to kill some time, Gala Barracuda would win the day for sure.
If you want more detailed reviews of these casinos, check out Slots UK
where you will find a review on each of those mentioned above including more details on which slot machines
each casino can provide.