20 November 2013

Betting

My step-grandfather Foster Morris - always known as Jock - was roguish. He loved the ambience of pubs and the amber nectar that was served therein and he also loved nipping into betting shops to try his luck on the horses. Ultimately, this is what fractured his marriage with my grandmother Phyllis. They parted when they were both in their early eighties. He returned to his native Newcastle to see out his days in a little council flat.

Back then betting shops were seedy, mysterious places - generally frowned upon by sensible, respectable society. Logic says that the bookies will always win in the end so the men who ventured into these places were largely seen as desperate fellows, fooling themselves into thinking that success in the betting shop could be an alternative to wholesome labour.

I was forty years old when I first went into a bookies to place a five pound bet on the Grand National. Furtive eyes assessed me as unhealthy blokes looked up from their racing pages, fags smouldering.. I didn't know what to do but the lady behind the counter explained. I thought to myself - you sad gits! There's an obvious correlation between drug addiction and the gambling habit. Gambling also ruins relationships, sucks away finances, breaks up families. I have never returned.

But today things are different. Gambling opportunities are everywhere. There are jolly TV ads for online gambling sites. Football teams may be sponsored by these organisations which are very cunning about drawing in gullible young people with promises of free bets and incentives to open accounts. It is amazing and concerning to me that our government seems to have turned a blind eye to this activity as gambling has come out from behind the closed betting shop door, putting on an inappropriate mantle of acceptability.

There's BetFred, Bet365, Coral, William Hill, BetVictor, Sky Bet, Totesport, Come On!, Ladbrokes, BetFair, Betdaq etc. etc.. Free enterprise is all very well and good - to our current "coalition" government it is in fact something of a religious mantra - but governments have responsibility to protect citizens from themselves. Betting has come out of the closet in various grinning guises but in my opinion it should be forced back into that closet. I mean, politicians and their officers have curtailed cigarette smoking and alcohol advertising, railed against drugs and those who peddle them, pursued paedophiles and people traffickers but they have allowed gambling to grow, as if it was okay. I bet it's not.

13 comments:

  1. I agree with you as it is one of the few bad habits I don't have.
    I actually like smoke free pubs but it gets a bit chilly standing outside at this time of year.

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    1. So you are a smoker! I think that Canada has the right idea. When smokers step outside a pub or restaurant they must be more than five metres away before creating teir evil-smelling fugs of fag smoke.

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  2. I like your choice of image ~ sums it up I think, and you have crafted a well written article today. There is a face behind every gambling addiction and one of my favourite songs is Blow Up the Pokies by The Whitlams.

    On a different note, this came through my newsfeed tonight and thought you would be please with this news ~
    http://morningaj.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/hull-wins-city-of-culture-bid.html

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    1. Carol - that image is Australian! And thanks for the link to Morning AJ.

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  3. Here in the states we have a plague of "Native American" gambling establishments that has brought all that nastiness from Nevada, where it was once confined, to locations that are convenient for everyone.

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    1. Jan - Do you ever place bets on your hens?

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  4. I am addicted to gambling on wives. It is very expensive and the house always wins. I mean the wife always wins the house.

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    1. Gambling on wives? How does Marcia react when you place the roulette wheel on her belly?

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  5. G'day Yorky! This is Lee (the female version) popping in to pay a visit...I hope you don't mind.

    We are inundated with betting commercials here on our TV screens and in newspapers, too. And I believe it's not a good thing. I have a little flutter on the Melbourne Cup - once a year. I also put my entries into the Lotto. One must have a dream or three.

    Those are my own choices - I don't need betting being forced down my throat every time I watch TV...or when I watch sport on TV. I'm a big girl now...I make my own choices; throwing commercials at me every where I look isn't going to make me do something I don't want to do.

    Take note the "girl" reference! ;)

    Just teasing, Yorky!

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    1. Ma'am I am honoured that you dropped by and sincere apologies for my previous error. Worldy-wise, mature people like yourself have the ability to put their very moderate gambling into proper perspective but the young and the weak may not have that resolve.

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  6. Fellow Yorkshire tyke here, currently in Norfolk, dropping in after reading your comment on the blog post about Hull. My own husband's reaction when I told him was 'HULL?!' and to my shame, that was mine too. But good on them, let's hope they can show them Southerners that it's not all flat caps and whippets, that there is some culture north of Watford.
    As for betting, I am amazed at the number of online bingo sites that keep springing up, almost every month a new one appears. It's pernicious, taking over, and why is it allowed to happen?

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    1. Divorce him Edwina! A sleight on Hull is a sleight on the Yorkshire Republic! Hull is a characterful city that in history had much greater significance than any other Yorkshire city apart from York itself. You should insist that during the year in which Hull is national City of Culture you travel up there for a romantic and cultural weekend away. He will end up wanting to live there!....Oh and thanks for dropping by!

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  7. I am so not into gambling I wouldn't even drop a coin in the Trevi fountain...

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