After an impressive 195-year run, Crockfords, Britain’s oldest casino located in the heart of Mayfair, London, has shut its doors. Founded in 1828 by William Crockford, a humble fishmonger who later became one of England’s wealthiest self-made men, the casino became an iconic symbol of British gaming history.
end of an eraPresident of Genting Casinos UK, Paul Willcock
However, in an era where online casinos are flourishing, traditional establishments like Crockfords have struggled to maintain their allure. Approximately 100 employees are facing redundancies due to this closure. Paul Willcock, President of Genting Casinos UK, remarked that a mix of factors, including the growing dominance of online gambling platforms, placed traditional casinos at a disadvantage, leading to an unsustainable future for such historic sites in London.
Interestingly, other high-end establishments like The Ritz and The Clermont have also seen their end in recent years, with high rollers now being attracted to cities like Paris and Milan. Changes in post-Brexit policies, such as the scrapping of the tourist tax in 2021, have also influenced the decisions of these affluent patrons.
Crockfords Casino was located at Curzon St, London W1J 7TN.
Briefly about Crockfords founder: William Crockford
William Crockford was an enigmatic figure in 19th-century London, whose life journey encompassed various interesting episodes:
- Fishmonger to Millionaire: Born into a family of fishmongers, Crockford’s initial trade might have been modest, but his ambitions certainly weren’t. From his beginnings in the fish trade, he went on to become one of the richest men in London.
- Gaming House Magnate: Crockford is best remembered for founding the illustrious Crockford’s Club in 1828. Located in the heart of London’s elite district, St. James’s Street, this members-only gaming house quickly attracted the English elite, including nobles, dukes, and even royalty. Here, vast fortunes were won and lost overnight.
- Calculated Risk: While many would attribute Crockford’s success to luck, it’s noted that he had an uncanny ability to calculate odds quickly in his head. This helped him amass his initial wealth and establish his gaming empire.
- A Social Icon: Beyond just a gambling haven, Crockford’s Club became a social hub for the English elite. It wasn’t just about the gaming tables; it was a place to see and be seen, to forge alliances, discuss politics, and network.
- Mysterious Demise: Crockford’s rise might have been meteoric, but his empire didn’t last forever. By the mid-1840s, he had sold his club and retired. Though he passed away a wealthy man in 1844, the reasons for the club’s decline and his decision to sell remain a topic of speculation.