When many people think about casinos they imagine they are a bright, modern concept. While more modern halls do tend to exhibit these attributes, casinos are by no means a new thing. They have a long history, during which time they evolved from being merely old gentlemen’s private clubs.
One of the first ever casinos in the UK started actually as a coffee shop. Opened way back in 1652, Italian owned Whites went on to become a well known hub of sophisticated gaming. Back then, such establishments were known as “gaming houses”. These were located primarily in London and catered to the upper classes. Aside from gambling, food and drinks were served, while music and dancing entertained the masses.
By far the most famous gaming house was opened in 1827. Crockford’s Club was opened by a working class man with dreams of grandeur. William Crockford, a seasoned gambler, soon made enough to open his own establishment. Eventually becoming one of the wealthiest men in England, he set his place up as an exclusive gentlemen’s club. He offered luxurious food, drinks and a fashionable location and was inundated with high ranking members. Crockford’s Club became all the rage and only the wealthiest were allowed in.
Where the upper classes went, gaming houses soon sprouted and began to spread around the country throughout the 18th century, particularly in spa towns. Gambling remained a pastime of the rich, while laws forbade the working classes from partaking.
“Hells” were hidden dens of illegal gambling where the working classes would risk more than just the next hand if they were caught playing. Things continued in this way for many years, with the rich enjoying their private clubs and playing high stakes games, while the poor hid away and played their own games.
Around the 1960s the first European style casinos started to appear across Britain. Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Brighton were among the first cities to open legal casinos. These evolved into the ones still active today.