The Mint Casino opened about 1967 above a restaurant at 185 Kilburn High Road. Today this is the Arbil City Restaurant, near the Kilburn State (now the Ruach City Church).
|The site of the Mint Casino (Dick Weindling May 2019)|
Here is a memory posted online from someone who played poker at the club.
One of the first places I played poker in London when I was around nineteen years old was The Mint Casino in Kilburn High Road, which was above a Wimpy bar. The casino was originally owned by a bright young Jewish kid called Steve who I believe came from Brighton.
The poker game was run by an old villain called Bill Manning who eventually owned or fronted the Casino for a while. One of the dealers in the poker game was a young guy known as ‘Chinese Willie’ or Willie Tann to give him his correct name. Later the poker game was run by a guy called Billy Falco and to a lesser extent his younger brother Mickey.
On the 1 January 1968, there was what the newspapers called a ‘Chicago style’ attack on the club. At three in the morning a van drew up and the back doors were flung open. Three men leaned out, and one fired several shots from a rife at the gaming club. The window was smashed and bullets hit the ceiling above the Blackjack table, and the dice table, bringing down some plaster. The men slammed the doors and the van sped off. Thirty-eight year old John Brett, a director of the club, said that none of the 30 people playing in the casino were hurt. He phoned the police who thought it was probably a warning about protection money. Nobody was prosectuted for the attack.
This was the time when London gangs like the Krays and the Richardsons, had spread out from Soho, South London and the East End area, and were collecting protection money or as they called it ‘a pension’ from a variety of clubs across London. The Mint Casino was lucky as other clubs in Soho, Paddington and North London had been blown up with bombs or burned down with Molotov cocktails when the owners refused to pay each week.
In September 1970 a Sunday People reporter visited Kilburn and other areas, where he was shown illegal clubs which carried on despite the new Gaming Board laws to limit the number of clubs which came into effect that July. He visited clubs where large sums of money were staked in card games such as poker, brag, and kalooki (a version of rummy). The ‘canotte’ where the house takes a percentage, had been banned, but it was the rule in the illegal clubs.
The reporter visited The Green Table, behind the Curry Pot Indian restaurant at No.354 Kilburn High Road on the corner of Loveridge Road. Here there was no pretence of a membership policy. About a dozen men were playing brag and a man said, ‘Poker, we have a lovely game just starting’.
Then the reporter went down the Kilburn High Road to the Mint Casino where there was a spy-hole in the door. Here he saw about a hundred people and £1,000 (worth about £15,000 today), on the table in a poker game. The new law said the London clubs had to close by 4am. But it was well after 4am when he visited the Mint Casino.
The Mint Casino was not shown in the 1971 phonebook and had probably closed by then.