June 11, 2009 at 12:53 #11707PompeteMember
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In an address to the Society of Gambling Studies Lord Mancroft stated the brief given to his father when given the job of Chairman of the Tote – this was before my time so maybe common knowledge to the old-timers on here but I thought it was interesting.
In the 1950’s my father was a Home Office Minister in Macmillan’s Government. In that capacity he once made a speech in which he said that he believed that most organised crime in Britain emanated from the bookmakers. Twenty years later Reggie Maudling, then Home Secretary, summoned him to the Home Office and asked him if he still held that view.
“Why?” asked my father.
“Because I want you to be chairman of the Tote,” the Home Secretary replied. So my father, who couldn’t count and hated racing, ended up running the Tote. Interestingly my father’s brief was to destroy the bookies. His first port of call was to consult his old friend and keen racehorse owner the Duke of Devonshire, who advised him that it was impossible to do away with bookmaking, for the simple reason that too many members of the Jockey Club owed the bookies too much money.
I have no means of knowing whether it was right or not – nor did my father – but he always thought there was more than an element of truth to it. Of course, this was over thirty years ago, in what was a very different age, but it does give an insight into some of the history of gambling in this country, and some of the prejudices that run along
It makes you wonder how different things would be today if he had succeded.June 11, 2009 at 14:39 #233350roryParticipant
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Quite long-winded, but makes interesting reading.June 11, 2009 at 15:24 #233358hoofheartedMember
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For me, the image of the old Lord Mancroft has always been tainted by a hint of some little hypocrisy on his behalf.
Although resolutely opposed to the Bookmaking industry, Lord Mancroft presided over the establishment of the off-course Tote Bookmakers and oversaw the development of a chain of high street betting shops under that umbrella — offering fixed-odds on other sports as well as horse racing.
Possibly he saw the founding of Tote off-course betting outlets as a counterbalance to Bookmakers, but there is a definite contradiction of conscience here and a disregard of principle.
It makes you wonder how different things would be today if he had succeded.
"If’s and But’s", maybe ?
I doubt that Mancroft would have succeeded even if he was Tote Chairman for a thousand years. Under his direction, Tote Bookmakers made a substantial loss each year ……… even the Tote overall itself operated at a loss so much so that for a few years no Levy was paid back into Horseracing.
I’m afraid that the British market has — and always will — expressed a preference for the fixed-odds bet rather than the Pool model. Betting "at a price with the bookmaker" seems to be the default setting of the British punter, and therein lies the Achilles heel of the wish for a Tote monopoly.June 11, 2009 at 16:06 #233367witParticipant
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..Betting "at a price with the bookmaker" seems to be the default setting of the British punter, and therein lies the Achilles heel of the wish for a Tote monopoly
…..though today even the Hong Kong Jockey Club do fluctuating fixed odds on the best-performing jockey at the meeting, as well as on football matches worldwide.
any views on Lord Wigg, as in the debate where Lord Oaksey made his maiden speech?June 11, 2009 at 16:58 #233377GlennParticipant
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In these cynical times a register of interests, for all those that rule the sport and legislate on it, would certainly make interesting reading. To be included: debts to bookies, debts written off by bookies, special concessions from bookies.
The evoloution of racing and betting legislation in the late 20th century/21st century would certainly make more sense if the public knew about the gambling debts that were written off for those pushing through legislation of off-course bookies in 1961 and the sort of account a more recent moderniser of British racing had with one of the big books.
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