Some of our most popular holiday resorts who have suffered from a decline in business over the last few years are to be allowed to open Casinos and replicate Las Vegas.

Did You Know?

There was a time when the only legal way to place any kind of bet was with a Bookmaker or the Football Pools. Generally among the workforce in most large businesses and factories there was a ‘Runner’ who collected bets with the money and placed them with the Bookie before the first race. Any winnings were collected the next day. He was paid a small percentage of the stake for his efforts. Although this was against the law, more often than not those in authority turned a blind eye.

Of course, in the larger Towns and Cities there were licensed Casinos and Clubs where the rich were entertained and encouraged to try their luck but those places were way beyond the reach of ordinary people.

The Irish Sweepstakes came round once a year and if anyone was lucky enough to get a ticket there were always friends keen to buy a share. It was commonplace for men to have a sixpence each way flutter now and then for a bit of fun and that was as much as most of them could afford. Even so, there were still a few who got the money from somewhere and gambled often enough to become addicted. In the same way some others became dependant on alcohol.

In the Services during the war, other than Tombola played on the larger ships in the Royal Navy, all forms of gambling were prohibited. Nevertheless, even though they were aware of the consequences if they were caught, there were always some willing to take a chance. As well as cards, the traditional ‘Crown and Anchor’ board would appear from time to time.

Everyone recognised that these pastimes, especially when accompanied by alcohol, caused arguments and fighting among the men. It was not unknown for a Rating who had lost heavily to hand over his entire pay as soon as he received it. Such incidents might have been rare but they were a definite indication of how vulnerable some people were and why strict legislation was necessary to protect them.

It’s unfortunate that since those days the laws regulating all kinds of gambling have become more and more relaxed. Perhaps it was Bingo, organised to help fill empty Cinemas that lit the fuse. Women of all ages quickly took to this game of chance and some, just as the men who gambled, became addicted and played every night if they could find a venue that was open. By the time Bingo Halls closed, Pubs and Clubs were installing Fruit machines which were already popular at many seaside resorts particularly among the younger generations.

The Government introduced their own Sweepstakes venture to encourage people to save by offering them tax free Premium Bonds with a monthly draw in lieu of interest. The cost of the minimum Bond has now been increased from one to a hundred pounds putting them out of reach of the small saver.

Worse was yet to come! The National Lottery was introduced and the law changed to allow youngsters down to the age of sixteen to participate. It has grown a lot since the early days when people bought a single ticket for a pound every week. There are now several draws as well as scratch-cards etc. available in almost every Town and Village. Nobody can fail to recognise how much the money allocated to various deserving causes has helped them. Although, as expected, not everyone agrees that all the money was well directed. When it was first introduced the public used the money they would normally have donated to their favourite cause to have a flutter. Consequently a lot of charities suffered severely and struggled to carry on. It’s fortunate that many have managed to hang on and survive.

These Casinos will open and create a further outlet for the money the population continues to find to invest in a game of chance. Other than the lucky few who win against odds of about thirty million to one, who does gain from this license to gamble?

Almost every time the Post is delivered you are urged to enter all kinds of competitions. Some even advise you are already a winner: But it will cost money to get your prize. You might have to phone to register your claim, in which case the call is likely to be very expensive.

Not to be outdone, all kinds of Television programmes ask us to vote on something or phone in with answers to silly questions. Then, like the others, they raise the prize money and make a profit from the phone calls. We have recently learned exactly how they do it!!

Then there are the offers: ‘Buy now pay later’. That means you might be paying for the goods when they are worn out and need replacing. If you can’t pay for them now, why should anyone assume you will be able to in the future?

Where do people get the money for all this gambling? The average personal debt in Britain is in excess of ten thousand pounds! Could it be we are relying too much on Credit Cards, Bank Loans, Overdrafts etc.?

There is another side to gambling. Just like alcohol or drugs it can develop into a serious illness. Some people might be able to take it or leave it but there are many who can easily become hooked. When they do, they will go to almost any lengths to get the money they need to finance their addiction.

Consequently families can get split up and many lives ruined. It took about fifty years to impose a ban on smoking after it was generally acknowledged to be bad for our health. Will it take another fifty years before the ‘powers that be’ realise the dangers of gambling and take steps to control it.

valley lad – [SEVENTEEN]