'There ought not to be one law for the rich and another for the poor which is the case to-day': The labour party, lotteries, gaming, gambling and bingo, c.1900-c.1960s

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Abstract

This article examines the way in which the Labour Party moved from a position of outright opposition to gambling and gaming towards one of relative toleration and acceptance. This sea change began seriously in 1931 when many of the early Labour MPs, who were influenced by the anti-gambling sentiments of the Nonconformists and the Free Churches, lost their seats in the general election. The changing attitude to gambling was further fuelled by a sense of outrage at the evident bias of the existing gaming and gambling legislation against the working classes but also by the increasing dependence of the Constituency Labour Parties on lotteries and gaming as a vital source of income for paying for their full-time agents. In the end, the Labour Party had to accept that gambling was both a political expedient for the financial well-being of the Labour Party political machine and also an endemic feature of the life of its working-class supporters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-223
Number of pages23
JournalHistory
Volume93
Issue number310
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2008

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