When the global health crisis necessitated recent lockdowns, numerous businesses closed their doors. It was believed that this would be on a temporary basis and for many of them that has proven to be the case. Now the news has emerged that the Ritz Club will not be re-opening, meaning that the famous club has closed its doors for the final time. It opened in 1998 and quickly established itself as one of the hottest places to be for famous faces who liked a flutter, with the likes of Al Pacino and Johnny Depp rubbing shoulders with Bill Clinton and Sophie Turner.
Its members have been rocked by the news that that will no longer be the case, however. Having temporarily suspended the casino operations on the 19th of March, just days before the United Kingdom entered lockdown, it was always assumed that it would re-open when things settled. An email sent out to members confirms that that will not be the case, however, with people informed, “Regrettably, we now write to inform you that The Ritz Club is permanently closed and will not be re-opening.” It was news that many of the members desperately didn’t want to hear.
A Club for Famous Faces
Part of the appeal of the Ritz Club Casino is that it was located in the ballroom of the Ritz Hotel, meaning that it was part of a venue that already felt somewhat exclusive. It was brought under the ownership of the hotel itself in 1988, although there had been something operating in the space since the early part of the 1900s. During the Second World War, for example, it went by the name of La Popote and was a nightclub with a combat dugout theme. When it became the Ritz Club, the Waterford Crystal Trophy would be presented to the winner of the Ritz Club Stakes at Royal Ascot.
In 2009, Dam Shirley Bassey launched a new album called The Performance, with the launch for it taking place at the venue. It was regularly attended by the rich and famous, with numerous billionaire clients often spending their money there. At its height it would see everyone from Presidents to pop stars turning up, some to place bets and others to simply be seen in the famous venue. Business tycoons would turn up to gamble and work with each other around the tables, with one person saying, “There is no other casino in the UK that is as prestigious and respected as The Ritz.”
Why It Is Shutting
Whilst it is something of a cliché to say that the House always wins, there is some truth in that saying. It is a shock to many, therefore, to learn that the Ritz Club hasn’t turned a profit since 2016. As Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, the owners of the Ritz Hotel, geared up to sell the venue, they realised that the books would need to look a little better than that. As a result they ploughed as much as £8 million of their own money into it, done in order to cover up the trading losses that the Ritz Club suffered after posting a pre-tax loss of £8.9 million for the year up to December 31st, 2018.
The Barclays had also invested £10 million the year before, when the casino posted losses of £11.3 million. Whilst the brothers, who own the Telegraph newspapers, won’t miss the money, given the fact that they are worth around £8 billion, it is clear that the venue is not a going concern. Middle East investors are reportedly willing to pay as much as £800 million for the hotel, which would amount to about £6 million per room, but the casino is unlikely to be part of the appeal. In fact, a big reason for the casino’s suffering financially is owning to gamblers from the Far East dropping in numbers.