Thursday, 13 February 2020

Double standards? I’ll bet!

As explained on this website, children under the age of 18 are not allowed in a betting shop under any circumstances. This is obviously a very different situation from the law that now applies to pubs. Following on from my post earlier this week about the links between drinking and gambling, I thought I would ask on Twitter whether people felt this restriction should be relaxed. The results, as shown below, were a pretty decisive no.

However, this comes across as more than a touch hypocritical. Is the action of taking your child with you into a pub while you have a pint really much different in principle from taking them into the bookie’s while you put a tenner on Brewer’s Droop in the 4.15 at Catterick? Obviously taking a child into a pub for a meal is a different situation, but otherwise both are a case of a child accompanying its parent while they carry out what is basically an adult activity. The child is expected to behave as well as possible while they’re there, but they’re not there for their own benefit.

Some people look on taking children to the pub through highly rose-tinted spectacles.

The reality, though, can be very different: The reason children were excluded from betting shops was to protect their own interests, not for the convenience of the punters. But are they really corrupting of the young by several orders of magnitude greater than pubs? The article I linked to above suggests that, if adults find it difficult to put a bet on with a child in tow, they should consider internet betting instead. However, that fails to recognise that, for many, physically placing a bet and then possibly watching the result on TV, is a kind of “getting out of the house” social ritual in just the same way as going to the pub.

Betting shops are also, of course, prohibited from selling alcoholic drinks. But, as well as the ban on children, they are also required to have opaque windows to stop people on the street gawping inside, something else that is now less and less common in pubs. So spending an hour or so there might not actually be all that unpleasant...


  1. You can't sell booze in a bookies and I think you can't place bets in a pub, either. The two activities are well separated.
    Personally I don't think children should be allowed in boozers (not restaurants) at all. Not just because some people don't know how to make kids behave or don't look after them while they're getting pissed, but adults need adult spaces, in just the same way that children would be annoyed if we were always on the swings

  2. I don't think I have ever spent long enough in a bookies for the presence of children to be an issue, perhaps because when I frequented bookies before moving to the US (uncivilised place when it comes to betting) I had already made my choices and it was a quick in and out to place my bet. Usually I gambled on football, with the occasional horse chucked in for good measure, and so I watched the game and results in the pub, where there were often kids. This does raise a corollary question, if kids are banned from bookies should they be banned from the race tracks themselves?

    1. Well, I'm just pointing out inconsistencies, not defending them, but I suppose the argument is that there's a lot more going on at a race meeting beyond just betting. Derby Day at Epsom, for example, is or was famous for its funfair.

  3. maybe it's time you went to a bookies and put some bets on.
    no need to be nervous. you can google how to do it.

  4. Betting shops are not only prohibited from selling alcohol, there is a complete ban on alcohol in licensed betting offices. However, the requirement of not being able to see into LBOs was done away with many years ago. (In the shop where I used to work, the betting terminal that could be seen from the street was noticeably less used than the other three, in darker corners out of sight.) Children are not even allowed in to use the toilet facilities, never mind watching one of their parents have a bet in the 4:15 at Catterick.

    1. To be clear, the only acceptable way to bring alcohol into a bookies is in your stomach. But too much of it could have you being required to leave...

  5. The Stafford Mudgie13 February 2020 at 22:12

    "Children under the age of 18 are not allowed in a betting shop under any circumstances" but there are no age restrictions on Category D games machines with stakes of
    10p for £5,
    30p for an £8 non-money prize, and
    £1 for a £50 non-money prize in a crane grab machine.
    I think such gambling by children is illegal in many countries.


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