I have always enjoyed a flutter, and am a firm believer, that like most things, if done in moderation gambling can be a lot of run.
When I was much younger (much, much, younger) I lived in New Jersey, and on occasion on a weekend, we would jump in a car, hit the interstate and end up in Atlantic City for a night of laughs, poker chips and 21.
As I have matured in age, my gambling habits have altered. It has been an eternity since I visited a casino, but I can’t think of a more fun day than hitting the horse track, or on occasion, going to watch greyhounds run merrily after a rabbit. If I can’t get to the track, but I have a decent tip, I can always see all the latest horse racing results here. I am hoping that when the children grow up, and nights out become more extravagant, a trip to Vegas will eventually be on the cards.
A bit of history….
Gambling has been prevalent in the UK for an eternity, it is certainly not a new thing. Although what many people don’t know is that from 1853 to 1960, there was a prohibition on off course horse betting*.
This ensured that off course horse betting became bigger business than ever and by 1939, along with the pools and greyhound racing, it was one of the most popular forms of gambling. The working class ignored the law, perceiving it as an inconvenience rather than an enforceable legal term, and gambling continuing to be a unifying activity against the lower classes.
Betting shops are firmly encased in our nation’s history, the streets are littered with them. The store front shops plus online sites contribute over £30bn to the UK economy. It is serious business. Betting shops were first legalised in 1961, and within six months of the law being passed, over 10,000 had opened. Interestingly, William Hill, an iconic name in UK gambling history, was reluctant to join the betting shop brigade, and waited five years before opening their first shop in 1966.
My own experience
I am a thrill seeker, I like adrenalin, and I like to walk a bit on the wild side (with a safety net). Going to the races is an enjoyment from start to finish. The planning, the outfit, the reading of the score card, the checking the odds, and trying to guess winners. It all never fails to ignite exciting anxiety in me, and god help the crowds when I chose a winner.
At Ascot, a few moons ago, I was on a losing trail. Despite working out form, and spending forever reading up on jockey and pony, I was losing my £2 each way bets and becoming frustrated. So I changed tack, and chose on name. Not my usual style and odds of 26:1.
The race began, I leaned with reluctant fear over the barrier and began to cheer on my rider, believing him to not have a hope in hell. Then my jaw started to drop as he galloped on from last in the pack, to the middle, then was nose to nose with the leading racehorse. I cheered with the enthusiasm of a mad man, cried out until my throat hurt, I motivated that horse with everything I had.
And it only went and won!
It wasn’t about the money, it was the feeling, the emotion, the excitement of claiming my prize.
And then spending it on Champagne afterwards…..
My love of the race didn’t lead to addiction. I won a bit more, lost a bit less, drank bubbles and smiled all day.
As I said, all things in moderation can lead to a ridiculous amount of fun.
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