In December 2011 Aspers Casino Westfield Stratford City opened its doors. It is the largest casino ever built in the United Kingdom. Aspers which is a joint venture between the Aspinall family group and Crown Limited the Australian leisure and entertainment group is the first casino of its kind to be built in the United Kingdom.
The Aspers group believes in entertainment for all and works to support the needs of the local community. Often its entertainment centres are built in areas that need regeneration. The name “Aspers” comes from the nickname given to John Aspinall the zoo owner who also held the UK’s first gaming licence.The Aspers group was chosen after a competition by the London Borough of Newham to operate the new casino. The 65 000 square foot casino will be in the new Westfield Stratford City shopping and entertainment complex which is the largest city based shopping centre in Europe. It is the first time that that an entertainment and retail development by Westfield has incorporated a casino. The complex also includes a cinema, bowling alley, three hotels and up to 50 restaurants. It is built close to the Olympic Stadium which is the new ground for West Ham football club.The Aspers casino which is the largest casino in the UK has a 150 seat poker room, 40 roulette and blackjack tables, 92 electronic gaming terminals and 150 slot machines. It will also have a restaurant and two bars and will be open all year round except for Christmas day.
Before the 2005 Gambling Act only 20 gaming machines could be licensed by each establishment. The 2005 Gambling Act was passed by Parliament to control all types of gambling. It regulates betting, lotteries, bingo, arcades, casinos and slot machines. The Gambling Commission also regulates online gaming.Aspers Casino is aiming to attract a clientele which will bet £15 to 20 at a time rather than high spending professional players. As part of its responsible gaming policy it has set up a “Community Action for Responsible Gaming” forum in Newham. However opponents of the casino claim that it will encourage gambling in a low income area and also say that its position near the Olympic Park will not help regeneration of this area of east London.Aspers Casino is the first of the large casinos permitted by the 2005 Gambling Act to be built and its progress will be watched by other groups interested in developing super-casinos.