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People who haven't visited a casino get their ideas about what they are like from the television. That means they have no idea. If you are thinking of visiting one for the first time then it will depend to a large degree on where you are, on what you should expect.

Most casinos have very local custom, so the atmosphere inside it is a reflection of what is Lots of facts about Casinoshappening outside. The range of dress code and behaviour is very extreme, although without doubt it has uniformly declined in the last fifteen years.

The clear message for the first-timer is that they are neither opulent palaces, where the high society mixes, nor gangster run joints filled with Mafia flunkies. They are places to gamble on simple house games, play private poker or just have a bite to eat and a drink, all with people who have regular jobs. Having said that, they are on the move towards being catering business with a lot of slot machines and away from the traditional table games. Why? Because there is no risk in that.

Advice for visiting casinos is that provincial casinos will general only prevent you from entering when wearing sports gear, like trainers. If you can't afford shoes don't go to a casino. For a high roller London casino or the likes of Aspers in Newcastle you would do well to wear smart clothes without a tie. Aspinalls and Crockfords, The Clermont, The Ritz and Les Ambassadeurs will like you wearing a tie. If dressing up is not your thing, you can always visit an online casino for a similar gaming experience without leaving your house.

Organisation   Top of Pagemembership
Casino organisation has been its weak point over the years. They tend to employ people on the bottom level and promote those over a period of years without training in management or gambling. The results aren't surprising. It starts with:
  • Trainee Dealer These people get a few weeks training at Roulette and are thrown into the pit to start straight away. They learn the hard'n'fast way and graduate to the card games. Starting on low pay there is a high staff turnover.
  • Dealer After six or twelve months a dealer who can deal the three basic games (BJ, Roulette, Casino Stud Poker) move up to dealer level.
  • Inspector In two years or more, dealers are able to oversee others and become Inspectors. This is a plateau where many people think about leaving.
  • Pit Boss Graduation to this point should mean having the capability to organise the pit which is the area where all the gaming tables are. A Pit Boss ceases to do any dealing of games.
  • Manager This position extends the tasks of organisation to the whole casino. Other duties may include hospitality towards the best customers.
  • Senior Manager Takes a more distant position into the back office. Has decision making powers on credit limits and table limits and promotions. Signs cheques for the big winners.
  • General Manager Has the bright (or not) ideas and basically has responsibility for everything, including profitability. Hence they often disappear when things aren't going right.
  • Director Some casinos have a resident Director who is the direct link to the parent company. They also disappear when things go wrong.

Most casinos belong to groups so there are head offices where more levels of manager exist who make general decisions on 'branding' and marketing.

Membership   OrganisationGuests
To visit most UK casinos under your own steam you must become a member because they are often private members clubs. You can join up by visiting the casino, sending the relevant details by fax or ask them to send you a form and return it completed. In return you will get a membership card. On visiting the casino for the first time you must take along some good proof of who you are. This means taking a Passport or a Driving License.

You must also be at least 18 years of age and dress to at least their minimum standards, which will be indicated when you get there. If you are drunk you won't get in (hopefully, though out in the sticks they seem to look the other way).

Your details are supposed to be protected through the Data Protection Act. Casinos don't think a lot of that law and you should consider your details to be open season within the gaming industry.

Now there are several casinos, like the Stratford Aspers casino, where you can just walk in through open doors without membership or registration.

Guests   MembershipDress Code
Instead of becoming a member of a casino you could elect to enter as a guest of someone else who is a member. Once you get inside, your pal will have to stay as long as you do. If they leave before you the security will kick you out. Being a guest also stops you from buying drinks or food with your credit card, or from cashing cheques at the cashier's window.

Most casinos try to get all guests to become members because they have targets to reach for new members and because they get to find out who you are.

Now there are several casinos, like the Stratford Aspers casino, where you can just walk in through open doors without membership or registration.
Dress Code   GuestsTips

It used to be the case (not long ago) that smart appearance was required for entry into all casinos in the country. Competition between casinos has meant a spiralling fall in the dress sense of casino Bad dress sensegamblers. Now a Saturday night in a provincial casino would be hard to distinguish from one in a pub.

Larger city casinos still require proper shoes, jacket and trousers for men and sense for women. For the top London clubs you will need a tie and a few quid just to tip the door men, valets and car jockeys. (a fiver each is the minimum)

Tips   Dress CodeAlcohol

In the rest of the world, tipping the dealer for success is the norm. In Britain it has become legal (on implementation of the 2005 Gaming Act) and now it is acceptable. It is still however not as commonplace as in other places in Europe or America.

It is also allowed now at the casino poker tables and this is more commonly accepted now.

Tipping other staff is well accepted and it is frowned upon if you don't offer a few coins, say, to a waitress or barman or car jockey or even the reception desk. This is also changing as the tipping culture is not well understood in the UK. It is also less welcome than it used to be because many casinos now do not allow hospitallity staff to keep their own tips. In this situation all tips are pooled and even the management get a share of the spoils. If you ask the waiter/waitress what the situation is you will be more comfortable knowing where your money is going.

Alcohol   TipsLimits

The laws governing alcohol have changed thrice in the last five years. You can now drink it on theCocktail gaming floor (came in after 2001). The bars were originally open until 23:00 and then news licenses were granted in 2002 for drinking until 2 or 3 in the morning. Now casinos in provinces open their bars until 05:30 in the morning. In London it may vary from casino to casino.

  • (1968-2001) Bar until 23:00. No drinks in the gaming area.
  • (2001-2005) Bar until 02:00. Drinks in the gaming area.
  • (2006) No limit on the Bar opening times.
Limits   AlcoholYour Rights

Table limits inside casinos are there to regulate the sort of players they want. A minimum amount, say £1 per chip for Roulette or £5 per hand at Blackjack, keeps the customers spending enough to make each person profitable for the house. Maximums, say £100 on a number at Roulette or £1000 per hand at Blackjack, stop people hurting the casino on a single nights play.

Casinos are basically very whimpy when it comes to gambling, which is supposed to be their business. They desire to have a positive balance sheet on every day of operation, they don't want to lose and especially not have any regular winners.

Your Rights   LimitsOnline Casino Safety
Your rightsSometimes people are wronged inside a casino. This may take the form of bets not being paid or rude staff or threatening behaviour from another punter. Casinos have a bad reputation for handling these things. If the problem is:
  • Violence Casinos will shy away from publicity and generally do nothing. If you are the victim they may in fact bar you! Why? Because that way they stop a potential re-occurrence that would embarrass them further. We advise is gather the names of witnesses and go straight to the police. Once the casino hears about that they will be quick to offer you something to shut you up (erh, we mean compensate you for the awful trouble). They are also likely to take your membership away if you make a fuss.
  • Unpaid Bets You are sure that you had your chips on a number but the croupier took them off by mistake. Well first try explaining that calmly to the dealer and inspector. If that doesn't bring joy, ask to see a manager. There should be cameras focused on every table that record all movements and the manager will be able to check. If they refuse then you have reason enough to refer the thing to the Gaming Commission. Sadly this means telephoning and writing to your local office and this takes time. However people do get success this way when they have suffered because of bad procedure. If it is just your word against theirs then you'll get nowhere. Get independent witnesses.
  • Rude Staff We have seen all sorts of staff members lose their manners but we stress this is unusual. Normally they have to deal with rude customers. But if you are not to blame and they are, then follow the procedure from the above piece on Unpaid bets.
  • Refusal to Pay This is extremely rare but in the advent that you win a lot of money and the casino believes (with or without evidence) that you are a professional or a cheat, then they may choose to give you a cheque that they bounce. We can hear you saying, "they can't do that!" from a long way away. Well, the law as it stands in a very messy way, allows casinos to chase customers for money on bad cheques paid to them but not the other way around. This may change soon.

Law surrounding gambling has changed with the 2005 Act. In the 1845 Act a bet is a gaming contract and that is something that is not enforceable in a court of law. [ this came into force because so much court time was being taken up by gambling disputes that it was made outside of the law, however, casinos are now part of multi-billion pound businesses with licenses to make money from gambling, they should be liable for all losses on a legal basis ] Now however, Gaming Contracts (you placing a bet in the casino) are once again enforceable, so stand your ground if a dispute arises.

NOTE If you have a complaint and take that to the Gaming Commission, they may well do nothing other than tell you that you do have the right to object to the gaming license of the casino if you feel very wronged. Sadly what this means is that they don't really care about your plight and what is on offer is very difficult. If you do wish to challenge the license you must first contact your local council and ask when the next renewal hearing is. Then organise yourself.

Online Casino Safety   Your Rights
Your rightsWhen gambling at an online casino, the most important thing is your safety. Although you’re safe in the physical sense, being safe when betting online is more about avoiding losing your life savings while ensuring that you collect all the winnings you are owed.

One way of ensuring that you don’t gamble away the house is to approach a casino game with a predetermined budget. Decide in advance how much you plan on wagering and the amount you are prepared to lose. That way you won’t get carried away with impulse or ‘binge’ gambling which can lead to serious financial woes.

And unlike traditional brick and mortar casinos, if an online casino is unregulated or is not authorized to operate in your country of residence, your winnings could be withheld. That’s why it is of utmost importance that you check the casino operator’s terms and conditions carefully and ensure they are regulated.
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