The large investments in London's gaming houses and the concerted effort to attract a new crowd are largely the result of an important loosening of Britain's casino laws that went into effect in September. For decades, Britain's relatively few casinos have been hidden away, hard to locate, and diffi- cult to use, in part because of strict gaming laws that have made it impossible for casinos to advertise freely - how do you draw tourists and casual gamblers if you can't tell them where you are located and when you are open? - and also due to strict rules that required gamblers to become members of the casinos before they could try their luck at blackjack, roulette, and slot machines. Those regulations meant would-be gamblers could not simply walk into a casino and start playing.
But all of that changed this past fall, when the new Gambling Act eased many of those restrictions, including the prohibition on television advertising and other strictures that have kept London casinos out of the limelight. The liberalization of Britain's gaming laws is drawing fresh investment - and international casino giants - to London, Manchester, and other major cities, where fancy casinos are sprouting to take advantage of what is expected to be a highly profitable era for casino operators. Casinos also can be found in many smaller cities throughout Britain, giving people who visit the countryside a chance to enjoy a night of gambling as well. For the first time, visitors from America and other countries who have proper identification are able to walk right into most casinos without the timeconsuming process of becoming a member. British casinos are finally able to compete with those in Las Vegas, Macao, France, and other parts of the world.