Declining opposition to betting on racing
in Horseracing and the British 1919–39

Betting was an intensely social activity, which avoided direct competition within families or communities by focusing interest on indirect competition between horses and jockeys. Betting aroused powerful emotions and strong opposition in wider British society. This chapter examines the nature of the opposition to betting. Those who disliked it, found it irrelevant or disagreed with it and those who enjoyed betting, accepted it or felt involved with it. Between the wars gambling was growing in popularity, while anti-gambling and anti-betting feeling was losing some of its power. Opposition to betting and gambling therefore also covered a range of arguments concerned with the economic, physical and social damage they caused. Most people recognised that excessive gambling could lead to poverty, and that if gamblers gambled more than they could afford this could have social costs.

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