The Differences Between Casinos in the USA and the UK

USA Vs UK Buttons

I’ve been lucky enough to play at some of the best casinos in the world from Las Vegas to London, to Manila, to Melbourne. During my globe-trotting days, I would always make a point of stopping in at some of the headline casinos in whatever city I was visiting, usually to try to top up my travel funds at the Blackjack tables, and I’m sincerely glad I did.

I’ve seen it all, from a couple of Roulette and Video Poker machines in the quaint English countryside, to the unbelievable glitz and glamour of the Bellagio and the other casinos on the Vegas strip.

During my time playing in these casinos, I noticed some stark differences between them, particularly when it comes to casinos in the USA as compared to casinos in the UK.

Let’s take a look at some of those differences now.

USA vs UK Casinos – Some of the Differences

Game Selection

There’s no doubt that few casinos in the UK can even approach US casinos when it comes to game selection. I’m specifically thinking of slots here, and I’m basing my perception on casinos in Las Vegas, which are probably at the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to game variety.

UK casinos typically have a few dozen slot machines, some Table and Card games, and perhaps a private Poker room. US casinos, on the other hand, can have slots areas which are bigger than the UK casinos, period!

The Gambling Act (2005) has definitely changed UK casinos for the better by allowing more variety and games in each establishment, but the UK still has a long way to go before it catches up.

To highlight this point, the Aspers Casino, which is widely considered the UK’s first super-casino, offers 150 slot machines, whereas the big casinos in Vegas offers thousands. There’s no comparison when it comes to size and variety.

The Laws

This is one of the biggest differences between UK and American casinos since laws lay down the foundations for everything else.

One example of how the laws in each country create differences in the casinos is the minimum age requirement for entry. In the USA, you have to be 21 to enter a casino, whereas in the UK you only have to be 18. This leads to a younger crowd in many UK casinos.

It’s also important to note that the US has a patchwork of state and federal laws, meaning what’s permitted at casinos (such as whether or not you can smoke inside) could vary from state to state. For example, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Nevada, and Louisiana do allow smoking in casinos since they’re considered ‘adult venues’, whereas other states do not.

In the UK, by contrast, everything is governed by the Gambling Act (2005), so you can be sure the same laws apply no matter where you are in the country, from Edinburgh to Cardiff, to London.

That said, it’s important to understand that the UK is actually four independent countries joined together in a political union, and each has the power to make its own regulations on most issues. You won’t find any casinos in Northern Ireland, for example, but if one did open, it would still be governed by the Gambling Act.

Interesting Legal Insight: While it’s legally permitted to smoke marijuana recreationally in the state of Nevada, it’s prohibited anywhere on the Las Vegas strip. You can smoke cigarettes and cigars, but leave your buds at home. Don’t even attempt to spark up a joint in a casino, or you’ll find yourself on the curb before you can say ‘But I didn’t know, bro’. It’s also banned in hotels, which are considered private residences, so don’t smoke there either if you’re visiting Sin City. Don’t even try it in UK casinos, because it’s still 100% illegal across the entire country.


I’ll never forget seeing Cher live at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. I later learned that many other superstars perform in Vegas, and it’s somewhat of a rite of passage for them. In fact, Elvis Presley was doing his thing in Vegas when he died.

The entertainment is just one element of the overall vibe or feel of US casinos. Everything is bigger, more in your face (think the fountains outside the Bellagio) and there’s a palpable excitement in many casinos in America.

UK casinos, by contrast, are a more subdued affair. Sure, there might be a band and some live music, but it’s unlikely to be a star of any significance, with a few exceptions, and the entire atmosphere is more of a calm, relaxing one, rather than a show.

This is due to a simple cultural difference. It even manifests itself in things like sales pitches and approaches. In the US, salespeople go all in, going for the hard sell, whereas UK salespeople are almost cold and aloof, preferring to reel customers in subtly and taking a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.

Neither is right or wrong – it’s just a different way of doing things, and these cultural differences are what give each country its own unique flavor and style.

It’s a well-known thing in the UK that Americans like to do everything bigger, and I think that’s what I’m getting at here. US casinos are much more than just casinos – they’re an entire experience.

Dress Code

This sort of ties in with the vibe/atmosphere element, but I thought it deserved its own section since it’s important.

There’s a definite ‘smart casual’ dress code when it comes to entering most UK casinos. You’ll need to be wearing pants, a collared shirt, and smart shoes if you’re a guy, or a dress or blouse if you’re a woman.

In the US, by contrast, I saw all kinds of characters walking through the casinos. I did see high rollers wearing suits, but I also saw cowboys wearing blue jeans (sporting huge belt buckles) and ten-gallon hats, people wearing yellow shades and Thai-dye t-shirts, and even a few who looked like they’d come straight from bailing hay on the farm to the Roulette tables.

I personally prefer the US approach, in this regard. A visit to the casino should be fun, and you should feel as relaxed and at ease as possible.

I also know there are some flashy casinos which probably do have a dress code in Las Vegas and elsewhere. However, this is a generalized perception based on visiting multiple casinos in each country.

The Online Element

Ever since the UIGEA of 2006, American players have found it difficult to gamble online.

In the UK, by contrast, there’s a well-regulated and licensed online casino scene, so the land-based casinos in the Uk are able to offer their guests and members an extended online experience after they’ve left the casino.

The Grosvenor Casinos are a great example of this. They have casinos in most major UK cities, and members can claim a £20 no deposit bonus when they visit the Grosvenor Casino website. US casinos can’t offer this to their players, however, since it would be technically illegal to do so.

This may not make a significant difference to the actual physical casinos themselves, but it definitely is nice to be able to claim extra freebies and bonuses after a night at the tables.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.