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One of the best of British gambling establishments called Clermont Club Casino is located in Berkeley Square in the prestigious Mayfair and has a long and outstanding reputation of elegance and splendor.

The building at 44 Berkeley Square, where the club was located, was designed and built in 1742 by the renowned architect William Kent for Lord Clermont. It's very impressive. The interior space with its Baroque decor and a spiral staircase looks stunning and theatrical. Everything here reflects the elegance and style, creating an atmosphere of elitism, which Clermont Club is famous for.

Casino for Traditionalists

This is one of the most traditional casinos worldwide. To enjoy gambling at this luxurious casino, you need to apply for membership in the club at least 24 hours before you want to visit Clermont Club. Any person can make it, but you should not assume that you will instantly get this membership. This is a conservative establishment, where all members are entitled to vote on who will be able to join the club and who will be denied.

Here you need to understand the difference between modernists and traditionalists.

Modernists know everything about new games and new trends in the field of gambling. This does not mean that they do not understand the importance of the old games and deny that they keep occupying leading positions in the industry. No, the modernists just remain open when it comes to dancing dealers or dozens of flashing and tinkling slot machines. They just focus on their next move at the table and don't pay attention to these bells and whistles.

On the other hand, traditionalists see the superiority of the methods and principles of the notorious "old school" of the gambling past. They prefer to play in the dimly lit room with well-trained staff and obligatory dress code, namely tie and suit.

The History of Clermont Club and John Aspinall

The Clermont Club in the late 1960s was one of the most extravagant and elegant casinos in the world, a magnet for the super-rich, who enjoyed gambling. The luxuriously and tastefully decorated and furnished building resembled rather a townhouse of the Georgian Prince than a gambling club. The members of this club from all over the world played here: tycoons from the United States and oil kings from the Middle East played with influential British politicians and aristocrats.

It was a strange mixture of power, glamour, drugs and fabulous wealth. The fortunes were won and lost at the tables of Clermont Club. One of the legends of the club tells how one day the young Earl of Derby, a large landowner, who only recently came into an inheritance, lost half of Yorkshir for one night. Clermont Club was one of the favorite places of Lord Lucan, where he enjoyed playing bridge with the founder of the club John Aspinall and Sir James Goldsmith.

John Aspinall in 1958

John Aspinall was born in the family of British army officer in India in 1926. After the divorce, his mother married Sir George Osborne, who paid for the education of the young man in a private boarding school. Some time later he was expelled out of it for inattention and after the three-year service in the Marine Corps, John went to study at Oxford University. However his interests were not academic. John Aspinall was interested in money and social standing. He wanted to join the elite of British society.

John skillfully played poker that allowed him to enter the circle of contacts of intelligent aristocrats, among whom was James Goldsmith, who became his lifelong friend. In the post-war UK classes of aristocrats and commoners were strictly separated. Gambling at casinos and bookmakers were banned and no one used gambling as the way to enter the establishment. John was going to exploit the weakness of the system to achieve his goals.

Aspinall realized that he could bypass existing gambling laws that prohibited gambling in establishments with the fixed address. He organized playing chemin de fer and baccarat. Addresses for gambling were "floating", i.e. every night gambling took place in a new home in Mayfair and Knightsbridge. As the organizer, he and his partner John Burke took commission fees for each bet. Crowds of wealthy clients flocked to the clubs of John Aspinall, and the reputation of his gambling houses spread over England.

Aspinall organized his business so that the entrance to his club was allowed only to the rich and influential aristocrats. Among them there were friends of the Royal family and nobility of the United Kingdom, including the Earl of Derby, the Lord "Lucky" Lucan and the Duke of Devonshire. John had attracted so many influential players to his club that after closing the gambling establishment in 1958, they lobbied for the adoption of the 1960 Gaming Law, which permitted gambling.

Foundation of Clermont Club

So Aspinall created a social and legal basis for the further promotion in the London establishment. He made the next logical step and opened the Clermont Club in Berkeley Square in 1962. It included casino and bar, restaurant and dance floor. So the Clermont Club quickly became the most fashionable and exclusive establishment in London. To curb the influx of players, the membership in the club was deliberately limited to 600 people. The first customers of the club included five dukes, five marquises, twenty earls and two members of the government.

At the same time, John Aspinall began to collaborate with one of the most ruthless gangsters of London Billy Hill. Billy was a master of the knife with which he paved the way for reaching the top of the London criminal world. His hallmark was a "V" sign, which he carved on the faces of his victims. In the 1940s and early 1950s Hill successfully worked on the black market, specializing in food, petrol and false documents for deserters. He became very rich and has several legal nightclubs. Hill always searched for the ways to increase his income by financing other gangsters. He carefully followed the Aspinall's successes in the gambling business.

Big Edge

Despite the amazing success of the Clermont Club, Aspinall always had financial difficulties due to the huge sums of money that he spent on his hobby, namely the zoo for dangerous animals called Howletts Zoo. Almost the entire income from the Clermont Club was spent on this zoo. In addition, the overhead expenses for the legal exclusive establishments were much higher than they had been for private clubs. Aspinall had to pay taxes. The rumors that Aspinall desperately needed money reached Billy Hill. He met with John and told him his offer, which became known as the Big Edge. Aspinall found the Hill's idea outstanding and agreed to participate in one of the most outrageous frauds of the twentieth century. 

The scam was simple and was based on marking card decks. The special device was constructed that marked cards as it was needed. Then, the cards were packed in cellophane, sealed and delivered to the Clermont Club in the guise of new decks. The specially trained "reader" of marked cards was sitting at each table. Since he could tell the approximate rank of his cards and other players' cards, he could calculate when his hand had more chances to win, and thus made his bets. John Hill hired unemployed actors to be "readers" and paid well for their work. In addition to reading cards, the actor also had to play the role of an unknown VIP.

The End of the Fairy Tale without a Moral

So, the fraud brought millions of pounds of net profit within several months, which was shared between Aspinall and Hill.

The Big Edge was unnoticed for two years and was over when Aspinall and his partner John Burke decided to retire. Aspinall cut his ties with Hill, letting him understand that this fraud was too difficult to hide and it had to be stopped. It is surprising but Hill agreed and exited the business without claims. In the early 1970s, Aspinall sold the Clermont Club to Playboy Enterprises Company for 500 thousand pounds. In the late 1970s he founded another club called Aspinall Curzon with the help of Goldsmith, and in 1987 he sold it for 90 million pounds. In the late 1990s Aspinall fell ill with cancer of the jaw and died in June 2000.

Nowadays

In 1990, this casino was purchased by Rank Group PLC for 17.6 million pounds. In 2006, Rank Group PLC sold the Clermont Club to the company controlled by the Malaysian billionaire Quek Leng Chan for 31 million pounds in cash. Leng Chan was so inspired by his new purchase that he decided to build new hotels and casinos in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur under the brand Clermont Club, promising to open them in 2016 and offering the "new type of luxury."

Nowadays it is one of the most exclusive casinos in London. Over the years, many celebrities have played at Clermont Club, for example, the actor Roger Moore and the deceased Princess Margaret. Despite the fact that this gambling establishment has changed owners several times in recent years, its elitism and commitment to quality remain the same.

Opening hours of the Clermont Club:

  • Monday-Friday: 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 a.m.
  • Saturday: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 a.m.

Options

The Clermont Club offers a superb set of games of chance with an emphasis on traditional games as we would expect from the establishment with such a long and glorious history. Its customers can play American roulette, blackjack, punto banco (a version of baccarat) and three card poker. The Clermont Club also has private rooms, where guests can enjoy gambling with the utmost confidentiality.

Dress Code

The Clermont Club is proud that it has the richest and most influential customers in the world and, thus, admission to the club is not available for everybody. Even members of the club may be denied admission to the casino, if they are not dressed in suits and ties or evening dresses for women.

Atmosphere at Clermont Club Casino

Despite the fact that it is located in the heart of London, the Clermont Club is created in order to help its members to relax and enjoy life without being in a hurry. Internal halls and high ceilings of the Clermont Club are very elegant and quite impressive. The halls, where visitors play one or the other game, seem specially and carefully planned and furnished exactly for this particular game. After all, members of the club have no idea how to play blackjack in the hall with roulette, not to mention the cheepy slot machines in the neighborhood, which are absent at all.

In addition to gambling, the Clermont Club offers its members a chance to take a rest and relax in the tranquil lounge bar. If you wish, waiters will bring any drink at the table. The elegant and well-trained English-style staff is not intrusive, but very attentive to all the wishes of the members of the club.

If any player is hungry, he or she can enjoy fine dinner at the restaurant of the club, which is also very impressive due to rich decor, luxurious furnishing and the wine list that will satisfy the most refined tastes. The restaurant can also serve as an ideal place for business lunches and friendly meetings.

Conclusion

Nowadays such exclusive clubs are a thing of the past. Many of such establishments in the United Kingdom and abroad, which have used similar models and approaches in their operation, have not been able to stay afloat and closed their doors. But it seems that the Clermont Club has managed to find a perfect balance between elitism and modesty. There is no doubt that the Clermont Club sets the tone for all exclusive casinos in London. However only those who are able to go there will be able to understand this. So if you are in England, apply for admission to the club as soon as possible!

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