The Clarence Room, and the history of gaming in Brighton

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Brighton has been a hotspot for holidaymakers for decades, attracting people away from the big city with its large beach, fascinating architecture, and splashing waves. Throughout this time, Brighton has amassed a rich gaming history dating back over a century, taking advantage of the allure and tranquility of the surrounding seascape. So, without further ado, let’s dive in and take a look at the history of gaming in Brighton.

Brighton is home to the first licensed casino in the UK

Nowadays, everyone can try their hand at classic games like poker, blackjack, or roulette at Paddy Power Casino, using any internet connected device, from the comfort of their own home. However, when the Clarence Room first opened in the 60s, players had to head to their nearest bricks-and-mortar casino to place their bets. These casinos were a source of entertainment for many, and a place for friends to catch up and relax whilst playing a few hands. 

Historians and casino experts have long since debated which UK casino holds the title of being the first licensed casino. Some suggest it was the Casino Club Port Talbot in Wales, which opened its doors in 1961. That said, the Clarence Room was undoubtedly the first licensed casino in England – if not the whole of the UK – established in 1962 within the Hotel Metropole.  

The iconic building itself dates back to 1890, designed by the same architect behind University College London and the Natural History Museum, Alfred Waterhouse, and was once a meeting point for the ‘Gaiety Girls’, such as Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, and Lillie Langtry.

It was at this time that Brighton’s notoriety as a relaxing spot for a seaside holiday boomed – and it’s still one of the UK’s most beloved holiday destinations to this day. After an extensive refurbishment at the turn of the 1960s to make the hotel more suitable for the changing needs of the modern holiday maker, the Clarence Room casino was incorporated into the building. 

Although the casino moved in 1985 to Preston Street – known as the International Casino – the Clarence Room continues to be a part of the Hotel Metropole’s legacy, which is now part of the Hilton Hotels chain. In fact, you can still see the casino’s original walk-in safe on the site, as it proved impossible to remove without significant demolition. 

Gaming in Brighton, from the Clarence Room to the modern day

Since the Clarence Room established Brighton as the epicentre of gaming in the country, the city has continued to live up to its legacy. Brighton now boasts a myriad of different casinos, most of which are located along the expansive Brighton Beach and its adjacent marina – there’s even a casino on the world-famous Brighton Pier. 

Brighton’s innovative attitude towards gaming is also alive and well, thanks to our very own Gamely Games. After we interviewed CEO Hazel Reynolds back in 2018, Reynolds famously turned down a huge offer of investment on Dragons’ Den, before winning the title of Amazon Small Business of the Year shortly thereafter. 

Their ethos is to encourage people to put down their screens and come back to quirky card and board games, such as Randomise, Soundiculos, and Frozen Unicorns. Following in the trend of other gaming in Brighton, the company regularly hosts events where people play games by the sea. 

With this in mind, Brighton remains the beating heart of gaming in the UK, thanks both to its rich history and modern innovations. All that’s left is to look forward to what’s to come for gaming in Brighton in the future.

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