1960s >> 1963 >> no-703-march-1963

William Hill discovers a social evil

The ever swelling ranks of society’s reformers have acquired a new “recruit.” Guess who? None other than Mr. William Hill of bookmaking fame. Speaking a little while ago in Birmingham, he complained:

  I was one of those who was all for legalization (of betting shops) . . .  on moral grounds I think it had to happen. Many of you here tonight think that shops are a great success, but I fear that they may eventually become a social evil.
The existence of betting shops has actually extended betting, with the result that we now have some newspapers warning us that the shops represent a grave danger of a general trade recession.
Surely it is the duty of the Government to protect the community, for, as I see it, the continued growth of shops can only lead to an increase in betting.

It seems strange that one of Britain’s leading bookmakers should complain about an increase in betting; which really means more business for the layers. When the Wm. Hill organisation insert their large advertisements in the Sporting Press—“Cash or Credit, Hill’s prices lead,” and so on—surely they are angling for just this?
In order to understand this speech of Mr. Hill’s, let us take a glance at the returns for the year of Holders Investment Trust, which owns the Wm. Hill bookmaking business. According to the Manchester Evening Chronicle of 16th November the profits of this concern fell by over a million pounds in the year to July 31st. Now that’s enough to make any tycoon tear his hair. Nobody need be surprised that if competition from the small fry betting shops has had a hand in this Capitalistic tragedy, then they become a “ social evil ” in the eyes of the big bookmakers.
However, quite without regard to Mr. Hill’s appeal to the Government and his description of “the many gangsters and thugs now holding bookmaker’s permits’—the inexorable laws of competition will eventually have their effect, in the usual anarchic way. There will be those who will survive in the betting business and those who “ go to the wall.”
Despite Mr. Hill’s alarm at the number of betting shops sprouting up all over the country and the “cool million” loss in his company—this is the Capitalistic way of life that he and his fellow Capitalists seek to perpetuate. It is front Capitalism itself that the majority of mankind are suffering.
G. R. Russell