Casinos date back to 17th century Italian nobility. Gaming, for the following 300 years, was firmly the pursuit of the wealthy and the upper class, as they were the only members of society with sufficient disposable income to partake in the hobby.
Informal wagers on the horse races and an early Victorian lottery were the domain of the working class, while the affluent could afford to frequent the various gaming clubs across the country. Edwardian Lords and Ladies would have access to games of cards and roulette, an idea which sprang from the mind of French mathematician Blaise Pascal, but nowadays gamers are spoilt for choice.
Trusted and well liked operators like Jackpotjoy are famous for their library of slots games, including Double Bubble, Deal or No Deal and 9 Pots of Gold. High quality video poker, roulette and live casino services can also be found on the site.
We’re also spoilt for choice in the number of great British period dramas available. They have been a staple of popular culture for many years and have been capturing the imaginations of audiences all over the world.
From the grandeur of the Victorian times to the elegance of the Regency period, these shows offer a glimpse into a bygone era and the lives of those who lived in it. One aspect of British society that has often been featured in these dramas is casino gaming.
Thanks to the popularity, and hence quantity, of British period film and television, there’s no shortage of dramatic reenactments of the casinos of old. We take a look at some of the most memorable gaming scenes from your favourite period dramas over the last 15 years.
A British period drama that has enchanted audiences all over the world is Downton Abbey. This show takes place in the early 20th century and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants.
Throughout the series, casino gaming is a recurring theme, with many scenes shot at high-end gaming establishments and characters engaging in various games of chance. During season 4, Gregson proves his poker prowess, outwitting a card sharp at his own game and winning back the IOU that he had previously lost.
A plot point in Downton Abbey: A New Era is the family accepting the proposal for a silent film to be shot at the family home. Although the prospective film is eventually cancelled, there are scenes that show a roulette wheel of the period set up in a makeshift casino within the drawing room.
A new footman, Andrew Park, speaks of his financial misfortune at a “horrible basement club, somewhere on Shaftesbury Avenue” in episode 8 of season 5 before Thomas Barrow steps in to save the day. Downton Abbey provides a fascinating glimpse of gaming habits of the time.
The BBC’s 2012 series The Paradise is an adaptation of Émile Zola’s 1883 novel Au Bonheur des Dames. The show takes place in the late 19th century and follows the lives of those who work in the first department store in England.
Throughout the series, various characters are seen gaming at a variety of casinos, with the main character, Denise, taking work as a croupier in one of the establishments. The paradise predates the lives of the Crawley family at Downton Abbey by a few decades and provides an insight into the social and cultural norms of Victorian England.
A more recent addition to the pantheon of British period dramas to feature casino gaming is Peaky Blinders. Set in the aftermath of World War I and following the lives of an infamous crime family in Birmingham, Peaky Blinders uniquely shows how people from humble beginnings can find their way into areas of society they’d otherwise not be welcome once they accrue sufficient money and power.
Throughout the series, the Shelby family is seen engaging in many traditional forms of casino gaming especially card games. Unlike other shows on this list, Peaky Blinders provides a different perspective on the world of casino gaming and offers a glimpse into the seedy underworld of early 20th century Britain.
One of the most popular British period dramas of all time, The Crown, has capitalised on the cult of celebrity of the British royal family in a more modern era. Chronicling the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the events that have shaped her reign, there are several glimpses into the gaming habits of her immediate family.
In one episode, Prince Philip is seen engaging in a night of high stakes gaming. Prince Harry recently said that although the show is fictional, it’s loosely based on the truth. Fans are captivated at the chance to peek into the lifestyles of a uniquely wealthy and powerful family.
Casino gaming has been a recurring theme in many popular British period dramas, lifting the lid on these pursuits during different periods in British history. Casino scenes have long been utilised in film and television as high pressure scenarios to expose a hidden truth about one of the characters. Fans can learn a lot from how personalities act when money is on the line, even if they happen to be members of the aristocracy.