British Bookmakers Anti-Tax Strike Hits Racecourses

Here are some newspaper accounts of a bookmakers strike that started around in response to a new betting tax.

First, from the Dundee Evening Telegraph of :

Betting As Usual .

Another Day of Passive Resistance.

Lean Time for Punters at Windsor.

The bookmakers continued their passive resistance move to the new betting tax.

At Windsor Racecourse some 200 bookmakers and prominent backers assembled outside the gates and decided not to enter the ring.

Although Tattersall’s bookmakers have decided not to bet, transactions are taking place in the small ring.

When racing commenced there was only about a score of spectators in Tatts. It is understood that the ban on betting will be lifted by the bookmakers , and betting will take place as usual at Newbury.

During the first race not one bookmaker was standing up in Tatts, and in the silver ring about a dozen of the smaller fry were offering to cater for the hundred people who paid admission.

At the meeting held before racing it was stated by one of the speakers that their action was not a boycott, but purely a protest against the tax.

Picketing the Railway Stations.

The strike of bookmakers at Windsor had its effect on the early race trains leaving Paddington , the crowd being substantially smaller than on the opening day.

The station was picketed by bookmakers’ agents wearing red rosettes, who were handing out to likely racegoers a small leaflet which read as follows:–

To British Sportsmen.

Re Betting Tax — As a protest against this most unfair tax on turnover we ask you to refrain from attending all race meetings until the tax is made workable for everyone.

Next, from the Western Daily Press of :

The Bookmakers’ Ban

There is something decidedly Gilbertian about the decision of the bookmakers at Windsor to boycott Mr. Churchill and his tax by refusing to name the odds on any of the races. Whether this was intended as a protest against the tax altogether or against the method of its application is uncertain, but if the drastic step taken is an indication of what may be expected in the future the Chancellor of the Exchequer will find himself in a decidedly awkward position. Some of the big bookmakers have expressed the opinion that the action on the part of Tattersall’s ring is unwise and prejudicial to racing generally and bookmakers in particular. If present information is correct, there is to be another boycott at Windsor , but in the meantime chaos has been caused by the declaration that bets already made at starting prices have been declared void. The situation which has now arisen is largely due to the failure of the bookmakers themselves to come to a uniform agreement as to how the tax should be shared. Further developments will be awaited with interest.

Next, from the Gloucester Citizen of :

Position at Newbury Races.

Inactivity of Professional Backers.

Although a great improvement upon the Windsor meeting, where the bookmakers’ “strike” was in operation, the Newbury meeting was an unsubstantial wraith of its real self. One saw both in Tattersall’s and the silver ring figures who were passionately advocating no betting now declaiming the odds on the races with equal vehemence. But while the bookmakers were there, the backers — particularly those of the professional variety: the fabric of the betting world — were conspicuously absent.

The meeting by no means wore the funereal garb of Windsor, though the attendance was said to be thousands below normal. Apparently the most important conclusion to be drawn from the Newbury meeting, which in racing circles is regarded as likely to be a determining factor in the uncertainty of the present position, is that while bookmakers have definitely relinquished their attitude of passive resistance, professional backers are by no means so ready to become active.

Bookmakers’ Resolution.

No Betting at Liverpool and Lincoln.

The Press Association correspondent at Leeds was informed by the Secretary of the Bookmakers’ Protection Association that, despite everything which might have occurred in the South, the members intended to adhere to the resolution passed and to refrain from betting at Liverpool and Lincoln.

Finally, from The Yorkshire Post of :

The Protest Against the Betting Tax.

Those who engineered the protest against the Betting Tax, by refusing to wager at the Windsor Meeting , appear to be satisfied that their action has had the desired effect of focusing the attention of the public on the injustice of a tax on turnover, and we are now to settle down to a period of constitutional agitation for a modification that will make it possible for the bookmaker to pay. Such remarkable action as that of last week, however, must always have a two-edged effect, and the stoppage of facilities for betting has also drawn attention to the possibilities of what the bookmaker dreads most — the introduction of the Totalisator. It is stated that the Racecourse Proprietors’ Association are to devote some attention to the question of the Totalisator at a meeting which they are holding next week. The Windsor Executive were, of course, heavy losers by what happened, as the public were driven away. Other executives probably feel that they must try and guard themselves against the recurrence of such a thing, and the Totalisator is regarded as the alternative. The sanctioning of the establishment of the machine on English racecourses is not at present a question of practical politics, but it may very well be in the course of a year or two.