The Renowned London Casino Facing Racism Charges

July 16th, 2020 9.00pm

Founded back in the 1960s, Aspinalls has since become one of the most exclusive gaming venues in London.

Located in the heart of Mayfair, Aspinalls rose to prominence during the 1970s, becoming the place where British aristocracy spend their “hard-earned” money.

However, its reputation has been tarnished after the casino’s former employee revealed the racial abuse of staff was something that happened every day at this private gambling club.

Claims of Racial Discrimination

Semhar Tesfagiorgis, a 40-year-old former Aspinalls dealer, accused the casino management of overlooking the behaviour of the establishment’s high-end customers. She stated they had systematically ignored the racial abuse towards the casino staff, especially when it came to high-rolling players.

According to Tesfagiorgis, the use of the N-word was common practice on the casino floor, while black employees were sometimes even compared to animals. The former dealer filed a complaint with an employment tribunal in London, while the details of it soon found the way to the media.

Tesfagiorgis came to the UK from Eritrea and had spent 13 years working for the exclusive member-only London venue. During all those years, she witnessed racial discrimination first hand. Customers would specifically ask for a white dealer or would refuse to take part in a game with a black one, and the management never responded to such language. On the contrary, they were happy to fulfil the gamblers’ wishes.

Back in 2007, just as she started working at Aspinalls, a gambler from Turkey used the N-word when addressing to a black dealer. Two years later, the same gambler, who was a regular customer, unleashed a string of racist obscenities at another black dealer. According to the filling, he threatened to never come back to the casino because of “that f****** n*****; that f****** dirty woman… that n***** girl”.

Speaking about her own experiences, as she has been working in the casino business for nearly two decades, Tesfagiorgis said the management had kept her away from some customers because they “didn’t like chocolate”.

Tolerating Racists Customers Because of Their Money

She explained she had tried to persuade the casino management to change the attitude, but her efforts had been in vain. Last year, a player from East Asia refused to play at the table without a white, female dealer. Michael Branson, the establishment’s Chief Operating Officer, fulfilled the customer’s request, saying he couldn’t turn away a million-pound player.

As we’ve already mentioned, Aspinalls was founded in the 1960s by John Aspinall, an eccentric and controversial person, who used the money his casino earned to build his private zoo where he kept his collection of wild animals.

Aspinall, who died in 2000, aged 74, was known for his right-wing views. Privately, he would express hatred towards Jews, but many argue he simply liked to be provocative.

Today, the renowned casino is owned by one of the largest Australian gaming operators, Crown Resorts, which purchased the property nine years ago.

Tesfagiorgis says the biggest problem is the fact that a portion of the casino clientele has right-wing views, which is explicitly mentioned in the complaint.

According to her, this is a serious problem for the entire industry, especially since Aspinalls is constantly turning a blind eye to the racial discrimination of its employees. Tesfagiorgis pointed out she wanted to make sure something like that never happened to others.

Speaking about the case, her lawyer, Shazia Khan, said the behaviour of Tesfagiorgis’ former employer had a direct impact on her physical and mental health.

Since the matter is now the subject of a legal case, Aspinalls didn’t wish to make any comments.



A former dealer claims the racial discrimination has been going on for years