From circus to casino – the evolution of London’s Hippodrome

Today, you don’t have to travel far to experience the thrill of playing casino games. In fact, you don’t need to go anywhere at all, as long as you have an internet connection, as there are so many online casinos that you can join and play at.

Whatever game you’re interested in, roulette, blackjack, slots or poker, you can play them all at online casinos such as 32red, Genting Casino and Lucky247. Many of them also offer the possibility of playing games on a mobile. Take a look at 32red mobile casino to see the wide selection of games that can be downloaded to your phone.

There’s no doubt that millions of us who might never have made the trip to a land-based casino have been introduced to the fun of casino games online. And it’s surely the most convenient way to play as you can play for only a few minutes or a whole evening if you choose to. But if you want to have the fun of playing casino games face to face and experience the ambience of live casino while you’re in London, then the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square is the place to go.

Though many people entering the Hippodrome will imagine that it has always been a casino, it’s actually only been one since 2009. But the building has a long history of entertainment in other forms.

When it was first opened in 1900 by theatre architect Frank Matcham, the Hippodrome was a circus variety theatre and included a 100,000 gallon tank for polar bears and sea lions to swim in. At the end of that decade, the stage was enlarged so that it could be used for variety acts rather than for the circus. Revue-style performances took place there. Houdini performed at the Hippodrome and the first UK performance of Swan Lake was staged there.

The Hippodrome became the Talk of the Town in the 1950s, undergoing another transformation to be suitable for hosting world-renowned stars such as Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland and The Jackson 5 in the following years.

In the 1990s, the Hippodrome was a world-famous nightclub managed by Peter Stringfellow, but in 2008 the venue had come full circle as it was used by the burlesque cabaret circus La Clique.

A £40m renovation programme was carried out by new owners Simon and Jimmy Thomas to create the Hippodrome Casino, with the aim of staying as faithful as possible to the original architecture. This was quite a tall order on a building that had undergone so many transformations in its 100 year history.

In order to ensure good luck for both owners and visitors to the Hippodrome casino, Feng Shui expert Paul Darby was invited to participate in the restoration process. The well-known statue of a horse and charioteer that stands at the top of the building represents success and determination and so Darby incorporated the same image into the Hippodrome’s new logo and the sign above the entrance. Therefore, anyone passing through the Hippodrome doors should benefit from some extra luck as they head towards the gaming tables!

Today, the Hippodrome offers three floors of casino gaming, with more than 45 traditional table games including roulette, blackjack, baccarat, Pai Gow and three card poker, as well as slots and other electronic games. There’s also a poker deck and a sale privée, for VIP players. If you’ve never played casino games, it’s a good idea to get some practice in online – so that you know how to play the games. Most online sites offer a welcome bonus when you first sign up, doubling or trebling what you put in as a first deposit. With many sites you can also play in demo mode, where you don’t need to place real money bets.

With a bit of practice beforehand, you’ll be able to step into the Hippodrome feeling confident that you know what you’re doing. And while you’re there, make sure to catch one of the shows too. Hippodrome Live, a 180 seat theatre where live acts include jazz, swing and soul, even cabaret, puts on different shows every night. A trip to the Hippodrome is certainly one of those ‘must-do’ London experiences.

By danxoneil


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