Gambling has been around for as long as people have been betting. In England, the first betting houses were established in the 17th century and then-prime minister William Cavendish stated in 1776 that “gaming is a very popular and common source of amusement in this country.” In 1865, the House of Lords ruled that it was legal for British subjects to bet on horse races back in England, establishing a legal precedent that would not be overturned for more than 130 years.
It wasn’t until after World War II that gambling in England would be banned. In 1953, the government passed the Betting and Racing Act, which made bookmakers and casinos illegal in England. The law was eventually amended in 1986 to include all forms of wagering, including sports betting and lotteries, and it was made completely illegal in 1990. However, that didn’t stop people from going against the law. In fact, in 2014, it was reported that there were more than 300,000 people in the UK engaged in some form of gambling, the majority of which (283,000) were doing so unlawfully.
The law against gambling has not been completely effective. In the 2014 Annual Report to Parliament on the Criminal Activities of Gambling Organizations, it was revealed that criminal gangs were setting up front companies to launder money through, which is why there was an increase in reported money laundering (up 114% to £9 million) and financing of terrorism (up 54% to £2.76 million) in the year after the law was put into place.
Early History of Cricket
While most people are familiar with football (soccer) in the U.K., cricket is actually the bigger sport. It was originally established in England as a way of playing the game during the winter months, when football was prohibited. Back in the 1800s, people were often paid to play cricket during the winter; the game even had its own professional league until the 1930s.
In the year 2016, it was estimated that there were 1.3 million cricket fans in the UK, compared to 1.2 million football fans.
An Early Test of Football and Cricket
In the 1870s, English football and cricket clubs would often play matches against one another in order to prove which sport was the better game. While most people associated football with the English, it was actually called rugby in those days.
The first recorded football match took place on February 22, 1876, when Wanderers FC hosted Thames FC on Beacon Hill in front of a crowd of around 500 people. Wanderers won the match by a score of two goals to nil.
Well over a century later, on November 26, 1976, two professional football matches took place between London football clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal. At the time, Chelsea were the defending champions and Arsenal were searching for their first win in the English capital. The match was a testimonial match for Stanley Matthews, who was retiring after 22 years as a professional player. Chelsea won the match 2-1.
The First Cricket Match in Australia
In 1886, a cricket match was held between Australia and England at the St. George’s Cricket Ground in Sydney. It was the first-ever cricket match played in Australia and also the first time that the English had visited the country. More than a decade later, on August 7, 1907, Australia and England would play a second match at the same ground. In that time, Australia has become a full member of the British Commonwealth and holds Queen Victoria as its founding monarch.
The first baseball game in Australia was played on March 30, 1890, when Melbourne Grammar School (now Trinity College) hosted Sydney University. The game was attended by 1500 people, many of whom were British expats living in Australia. Since then, the sport has gained popularity in the country, with more than a million fans attending games each year.
Legal Precedent For Betting On Horse Racing
A British imperial sportsman named Fred Archer saw the potential for big-game hunting after World War II and established a horse-racing gambling ring in the UK. In 1953, when Archer was arrested for illegal gambling, the courts cited an earlier decision from 1776 and ruled that it was legal for subjects to bet on horse races. Archer appealed the case all the way up to the House of Lords, where he won his appeal. The law was subsequently amended in 1965 to include all races, regardless of whether they were horse, dog, or rat racing, and it was made completely illegal in 1990.
Why Were Football and Cricket Permitted In The UK In The First Place?
The UK has one of the most vibrant economies in the world and is a hub for business, with many large international companies having offices there. International visitors are welcome and plenty of attractions and activities exist to keep them interested in the country, including football and cricket. If you want to visit England as a tourist, you will need to respect the law and keep your eyes open for signs of betting shops. Otherwise, you will be fine. The chances of being caught are very slim, especially if you aren’t placing large bets or attending exclusive private parties.