Although the USA and UK are two of the largest gambling regions in the world, the physical casinos in the two countries are vastly different. For anyone traveling from the US to Britain (or vice versa), the following are seven key differences worth knowing about.
1. Legal Age
Among the most significant differences between the two nations’ casinos are the laws that oversee gambling. While the Gambling Act of 2005 regulates all gambling in the UK, gambling laws in the US vary between federal laws and those set individually by each state.
While laws in both countries ensure that gambling is conducted safely and responsibly, one of the key differences is the minimum legal age required to gamble.
In the US, almost all casinos require patrons to be at least 21 to gain access to the casino and seek fortune. However, the UK happily allows anyone 18 years or older to try their hand at gambling. Because of this, many younger American tourists enjoy gambling while vacationing in the UK.
2. Taxes on Winnings
Another variant caused by the difference in laws is the taxation on cash prizes won via gambling. The rules regarding tax on winnings are vastly opposite, leading to much higher winnings for UK players.
In Britain, any winnings from gambling are considered exempt from tax. If you win $1 million, you keep the full $1 million.
By contrast, all winnings received in a US casino are taxable. As a standard rule, 24% of all winnings are withheld for tax purposes. To add some relief, minimum amounts must be exceeded for the tax to be withheld.
On slots, this amount is $1,200. Keno requires a win of $1,500 or more, and wagering pools, lotteries, and sweepstakes need a win of more than $5,000. Meanwhile, games of skill, such as blackjack, craps, and roulette, don’t have any tax withheld by the casino. However, you must still declare any win to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).
It should be noted, however, that UK residents visiting the US are exempt from paying tax on winnings. While the tax will be withheld from their winnings when cashing out, it can be claimed by completing a 1040NR form.
3. Casino Venues
One of the most recognizable differences between casinos across the oceans is the size of gambling areas. The US is known for having extravagant casinos that are tourist destinations in and of themselves—particularly those in Las Vegas.
The UK, in comparison, has tiny casinos. The most recognized British casino brands, like Genting Casinos, are amongst the biggest in the country—with Genting Casino Blackpool housing 14,000 square feet of gaming space.
However, casinos like the MGM Grand in Vegas occupy over 172,500 square feet.
4. Dress Code for Gambling
Aside from having smaller venues, casinos in Britain are also more traditional regarding what patrons wear.
Usually, the dress code to enter a UK casino is defined as “smart casual.” This means that men should wear trousers and a neat shirt, while ladies are encouraged to wear a dress or similar smart attire.
Moreover, most UK casinos strictly prohibit donning sunglasses and hats. Tracksuits are also banned, and although casinos are becoming more lenient in recent years, you may still be denied entry if you arrive in track pants.
In the US, however, casinos welcome everybody—regardless of the apparel they choose to wear. Most casinos allow casual dress and worry more about providing a fantastic gambling experience than what patrons wear.
5. Operating Hours
For players from the US, it may sound strange to think that a casino closes its doors at a specific time. This is primarily because casinos in the US operate on a 24-hour basis and are rarely closed.
More than this, US casinos are known never to have a clock visible from the gambling floor—a rule many international casinos follow. This ensures players don’t notice how much time they’ve spent gambling.
In the UK, a clock on the gaming floor is expected. These are placed visibly to ensure that patrons can see when closing time is approaching—as most UK casinos operate according to strict hours and only a few are available 24/7.
As a loose rule, casinos in Britain operate from noon till around 4:00 AM. Each casino sets its operating hours, so there may be some variation in these times from location to location.
America is known as the land where you go big or go home. Casinos in the country are no different, with many offering massive entertainment events and a lively atmosphere that inspires action. Casinos in Vegas are particularly known for this.
Across the pond, however, gamblers enjoy a substantially more subdued, calming, and relaxing atmosphere. While casinos in Britain may also offer live entertainment and play music in the background, these are generally supplementary to gambling.
7. Gaming Opportunities
Like any industry, the demand for certain things varies from one country to another. This is no different regarding the available gaming opportunities.
Craps, for instance, is a hugely popular game in America. British players, however, aren’t as fond of the game. Therefore, it is not as widely available in UK casinos.
Other differences can be found in popular games—the best example is the classic game of roulette, which has a dedicated version for the American market.
While essentially the same game, American roulette features two pockets with zeros. Inversely, those offered in UK casinos only have one.