Consultation process underway

London's Crockfords Casino, UK's oldest gaming club, could shut down amid drought of high-end tourists

Reading time 1:28 min

Crockfords Casino, which claims to be the UK’s oldest gaming venue, is at risk of shutting down. The casino's owner, Malaysia’s Genting Group, has initiated a 30-day "consultation process" with its staff as it decides on the future of the 80 million pounds ($97 million) property, according to a report by Daily Mail.

Crockford’s was established in 1828 in Mayfair by a working-class fishmonger William Crockford, who later became one of the wealthiest self-made men in England. As per the report, the casino employs around 100 people who are now facing potential redundancy. The venue, best known for its exclusive clientele of aristocracy and royalty, could be closing its doors for good as London fails to attract high-end tourists.

Paul Willcock, president of Genting Casinos UK, in a statement to The Mail, said that Crockfords had been negatively impacted by "a combination of factors." According to Willcock, London is at a "competitive disadvantage" compared with other international markets. He further pointed out that no decision would be made until the views of the casino’s staff members had been heard.

Willcock said: “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 while this consultation is underway.”

In recent years, two high-end casinos in London, the Ritz Club and the Clermont, shut down owing to the lack of high rollers visiting the UK. John O’Reilly, the CEO of the UK’s biggest casino group, Grosvenor, in an earnings call last month, said that Middle Eastern high rollers, who have traditionally supplied London’s casinos with a stream of VIP revenues, were now choosing to visit Paris or Milan instead.

This is partly the result of the British government scrapping the duty-free system for foreign visitors, or 'tourist tax', which allowed them to regain the 20% sales tax, known as value-added tax (VAT), on items purchased while in the UK. The system ended in 2021 when the UK officially left the European Union. Additionally, London’s high-end casinos have also been affected by the Gambling Commission’s 2020 decision to ban gambling with credit cards.

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