London is having an unprecedented casino boom following the opening of two huge new gambling palaces over the past year. The owners of Aspers in Stratford, which marks its first anniversary next month, and the Hippodrome in Leicester Square say they have been astonished by Londoner’s response. Thousands of Londoners are pouring into the two 24-hour casinos every night with numbers running at twice the level of original forecasts.
The casinos, which have created about 1,000 jobs, have customers at their tables around the clock and are being used for business meetings.
The two complexes, the closest London has to Las Vegas-style mega-casinos, were made by possible by Labour’s relaxation of gambling laws in 2007, which cleared away “Victorian” red tape restrictions such as needing to become a member 48 hours in advance. The deregulation led to fears that the new casinos would lure legions of addicted “problem gamblers” but those concerns do not yet appear to have been realised.
The 64,000 sq ft Aspers, in the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, is on course to notch up about 1.5 million customers in its first year. Some 7,000 people visit each Saturday night.