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50 Years Ago: Betting Becomes Respectable

Now that the new legalised betting shops are off to a good start and working class punters adorned with the dubious honour of a mantle of bourgeois respectability wherever they can lose their fair day's pay in a more dignified way; it may be timely to compare the old back street hole-in-the-corner betting dens of Manchester with some of the present chromium plated outfits blossoming forth under the new regulations.

No longer is there any need to slip surreptitiously down a back alley or dodge P.C. 49 and the Black Maria in a frantic effort to play up one's pension or the rent on the elusive 2.30 winner; one awaits the result, jammed tight in a sweating mass of the unfortunate class of society, who never seem to tire of trying to gamble their way out of poverty, merely because they do not yet realise the cause of it.

Those repulsive conditions of working class punters, in grim contrast to the environment and atmosphere of Ascot lawns, etc., have given way, despite the hypocritical opposition of the men of God, to armchair betting in the main street betting shops, with loudspeaker commentaries, official receipts for all commissions, and rapid payment after results and the weigh in.

(…) [W]e point to the cause of all this gambling activity—the crazy profit system of production which divorces the producers from their products, leads them up the garden to chase shadows in State-organised lotteries, Football Pools and Bingo rackets, and the rest. This is typical of capitalism in 1962: but in a cooperative world of production for use, a money-less, class-less, trade-less community, gambling will cease simply because profits and losses, poverty, privilege and luxury will give way to the social equilibrium of production for use.

(from article by G. R. RUSSELL, Socialist Standard, October 1962)