"The new Gambling Act is a real sea change," says Bill Timmins, former chief executive officer of London Clubs International, which operates a number of casinos, including Fifty, the Casino at the Empire, and the new Manchester235(CQ) in Manchester. "There have been 40 years of restrictions, and those are going away. We'll be able to advertise in print, on radio, on TV. At this point, only three percent of the British population actually gambles at a casino, but we think that will go to double digits in the next few years."

In anticipation, the company - one of the largest casino operators in Britain - has been drawing some inspiration from Las Vegas, where nongaming revenue now surpasses money made directly from gambling, and is building casinos that are more than just casinos. Its urban designers can't match the wide-open spaces of Las Vegas, where giant casino hotels can have pools, health spas, and other attractions. But the goal is the same: to attract people who aren't necessarily interested in gambling but who want to try the bar, the nightclub, and the restaurant. Food and drink prices are kept at a reasonable level so that the cost of an evening out isn't prohibitive. No one is pressured to gamble, so it is easy for the curious to co

me, have a meal, dance a bit, and go home or back to their hotel without risking their money. The strategy seems to be working so far at the Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square. The venue is designed to capitalize on the intense foot traffic in the heavily visited environs of central London. And Timmins says it is drawing far more patrons than expected in its first few months of operation.

Few cities in the world can match the variety of London's nightlife - the dozens of theaters, both large and small; the hundreds of clubs offering virtually every type of live music known to man; and the top-ofthe- line symphony, ballet, and opera companies that call the city home. Now, after a period of some decline, imaginative and fun casinos are throwing open their doors, adding still more to the mix that gives London its around-the-clock glow.