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UK Casino Gaming Regulations Guide
Topics: Admission - Membership - Gaming - Gaming currency - Food & drinks - Dress code - Tipping - Gambling reforms - Complaints
Note: The law requesting new casino members to wait 24 hours before being permitted to game was abolished on 1st October 2005. You can now enter a casino in the United Kingdom and play straight away.
Admission, minimum age limit, identification
In most casinos in the United Kingdom you are now admitted instantly and you can play casino games straight away. However, some private casino clubs may still require that you apply for membership first, as before.
With the new UK gambling laws, starting 15 December 2007 the membership application requirement on casinos has been lifted. You are simply required to register your name, your date of birth and a digital photo of yourself is also taken on the spot.
The ID/Passport is no longer necessary, but it is recommended as there may be instances where they may need to ask for identification, such as if you look younger than 18 years of age, which is the UK legal minimum gambling age. Also, if you win a large sum of money (say £1,000), they may ask you for identification at the cash desk before paying you.
The membership system - The way it was before
(Some high-end private casino clubs in the UK may still apply this system.)
In the United Kingdom the casinos are Clubs. To play at a UK casino you needed to become a member first and you are required to fill in a membership application form.
They will want to see your passport or photo driving licence or bankers card supported by a household bill issued within the last three months. Although acceptance is normally automatic, they may at their discretion decline your application.
Once you become a member, you are normally given a membership card straight away or sent to you by post, and you do not require to produce your ID/Passport on your subsequent visits.
You may join instantly upon your first visit or complete a membership application form, by post, by fax or online.
Your membership should be approved within 24 hours of receiving your application and you can then visit the casino and enter the gaming area and play. Membership approval is normally at the discretion of a membertheship committee.
Gaming, games, opening times
British casinos are usually open from 2pm to 6am every day of the year except Christmas day. Some in busy areas are open for longer time, and some for shorter time and not every day.
United Kingdom casino gaming is regulated by the Gaming Board for Great Britain, under laws which ensure fair odds and properly supervised playing conditions.
All casinos provide a variety of games and facilities such as food and drinks and toilets. The games may include Roulette, Blackjack, Craps/Dice, Punto Banco (Baccarat) and Caribbean/Casino Stud Poker (also with progressive Jackpot). Most of them also have slots/video machines also called Fruit Machines. Touch-bet Roulette machines and Three-card Poker are now widely available and are gaining in popularity among players.
Most casinos in the UK, if not all, have single zero wheel roulette and operate the 'La Partage' rule. This rule basically means that the player loses only half his/her bet on the outside 'even money' bets if the outcome is zero.
Casino games, such as Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat etc, are banker's games and, as such, are games of 'unequal chance'. The nature and structure of these games therefore gives an advantage to the House (the casino). This is called the 'House Edge', which is a universally accepted feature of International casino gaming. On average, the House Edge applied in UK casinos is one of the lowest compared to many other countries.
In the UK most casinos play American style Roulette but using a single zero. Very few high end casinos also play French style Roulette, where the chips are handled with a stick by the dealer/stickman.
Stakes vary from casino to casino, so it is best to check their minimum bets before applying for membership. For example: Roulette minimums can vary from 50p (usually in casinos outside London) to £5 or even £25 for a single number bet.
Unlike the USA, in the UK a £1 table minimum at Roulette means you can bet just £1 per spin on numbers. In Las Vegas you need to place a minimum of 5 bets of $1 chips on numbers per spin if you play on a $1 table minimum. However, the outside bets minimum in the UK is usually five times the table minimum.
Blackjack table minimum can vary from £3 to £25. Some clubs have private rooms where high rollers (high stake gamblers) can play for very high stakes in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.
Some casinos have card rooms where you can play Poker, Kalooki and Mah Jong and they also hold tournaments with big money prizes for the winners. The Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London is very well known locally and internationally for holding such tournaments.
Gaming currency, cashing, cash facilities
The gaming currency in most, if not all, UK casinos is in GB Pounds.
British casinos normally accept all major currencies. You change at the cash desk and the rates are usually good. You can then 'buy-back' the currency at the same exchange rate if you ask the casino to keep it for you.
There are other forms of cashing that are usually available in British casinos, with limits to the maximum amount cashed (usually £1000), per day, without prior arrangement:
- Debit/Credit cards (can be used up to a certain amount per account, per gaming day)
- Guaranteed Cheques (you can cash, up to a certain amount, one personal cheque per account you hold if supported by a cheque guarantee card)
- ATM machines (various cards are accepted)
- Travellers Cheques (usually at a competitive rate and with no commission)
- Bank Drafts and Building Society Cheques (subject to verification)
If you prefer, you may leave funds on deposit for your safety and security. You will be given a receipt, which can then be exchanged at the casino where you play.
Also, you can arrange for funds to be transferred directly into the casino's bank account prior to your visit. This is for your convenience and provides instant access to funds when you visit the casino.
Food and drinks
London has the highest number of casinos and most of them are near the West End (central London). Most casinos have a bar, a snack bar, a TV lounge and excellent restaurants with international cuisine.
The Colony Club casino in Mayfair London features the world famous restaurant where you can sample the finest food prepared by twenty chefs serving six different cuisines from China, Europe, Thailand, India, Lebanon and Japan.
It is advisable to book a table at the restaurant by phone before going to a casino, particularly on Saturday night.
You can drink alcoholic beverages at the bar or restaurant and now also at the gaming tables or anywhere in the gaming hall. Alcoholic drinks were restricted to the Bar and Restaurant only, but as of 1st August, 2002, drinks are allowed in the gaming area too.
Most UK casinos, if not all, serve complimentary soft drinks and exquisite sandwiches (also toasted) whilst gaming. Some casinos will also serve you snack dishes whilst gaming.
Dress code varies. For most casinos it is usually smart casual. High-end casinos may require that you wear a jacket and possibly a tie. At the time of your application for membership you will be advised as to what is required in dress code and also the number of guests you are allowed to bring in with you.
Below are items commonly allowed and not allowed for both, men and women:
- Allowed: Polo shirts, Polos Shirts with short sleeves, Jeans if neat and in one piece, Sneakers, Leather and suede jackets.
- Not allowed: Hat/Cap, Sunglasses, T-shirts, Shorts, Jogging pants, Sandals. Windbreakers/long raincoats/long overcoats are to be left at the cloakroom.
- Allowed: Blouses, T-shirts Halter tops, Summer dresses, Fancy shorts/skirts, Sandals, Leather and suede jackets.
- Not allowed: Hat/Cap, Veils/Bourka’s, Sunglasses, Jogging pants, Jeans if cut, Bathing suits in combinations with skirt or trousers. Windbreakers/long raincoats/long overcoats are to be left at the cloakroom.
Until recently in all UK casinos gaming staff were not allowed to accept tips. From August 2008 tipping of all employees is permitted in Grosvenor casinos. [Aug 2008 'Tipping' update]
UK gambling deregulation and reforms
Reforms have been introduced in 2002 that permit consumption of alcohol on casino gaming floors, show live entertainment, and introduce selected additional new games. It is believed that the deregulation and reforms have the potential to make the UK one of the most exciting gaming markets in the world.
The new reforms also allow casinos to offer other products such as sports betting, keno, bingo and a much improved quantity and quality of high-prize slot machines with larger sums of possible jackpot wins.
Complaints - Gaming disputes procedure
The process for settlement of any gaming related dispute, the objective as detailed in the 2005 Gambling Act that gaming be conducted fairly and openly.
Should you have any complaint or dispute about any gaming related decision, the process for settlement is as follows:
- The matter should be raised with the dealer and/or table inspector at the time.
- If you are not satisfied with their decision, it should be raised with the 'pit boss' or 'floor manager', again, at the time.
- If not satisfied with their decision, you should put your concerns to the General or Senior Duty Manager of the casino at the time, or in writing to the General Manager at the casino address.
- If still not satisfied with the decision, you should put your complaint in writing to the casino's Head Office.
- Should all internal avenues have been exhausted and you are still not satisfied with the decision regarding your gaming complaint or dispute, you may refer the matter in writing to the Independent Panel for Casino Arbitration (IPCA) at the following address: IPCA, PO Box 5698, London, W1A 7AW.
[Dec 2007 last major update]
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