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Banking and gambling

Having blogged so recently about the similarity between gambling and banking on the back of the Gambling Commission’s survey about attitudes towards the former, I was struck by this description of the latter in Jerry White’s history of London in the Nineteenth Century (Jonathan Cape, 2007; p. 164):

“The bankers of Lombard Street…loaned money at interest for a fixed (and usually short) term. To raise the cash they loaned, they might also sell paper at a discount. This was a credit system that gambled – ‘ran a book’ in Lombard Street jargon – on the creditworthiness of those who had issued or accepted a bill. In normal times, sound merchants and manufacturers honoured their bills and paid up. But if trade was bad, the risks could be high…. The London discount market was not the only game in the City. Stock-jobbing, that ‘most active and decided spirit of gambling’ [Rudolph Ackermann, The microcosm of London, (1808-10)], had come out of coffee houses into a ‘stock exchange’ in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.”

I wonder whether, in 100 years from now, people look back on our current attitude to sports gambling, and the squabbles over betting exchanges, and wonder what all the fuss was about?

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  1. martin.cassidy says


    As much as I agree with much of your thoughts on the matter – (perhaps gambling is more acceptable to Australians!) – there are significant differences between the gambling and banking industries that cannot be ignored.

    For example, one should not "invest" their superannuation or weekly wage on speculative bets, irrespective of how expertly one reads form. Indeed the principle of not placing all of your eggs in one basket should also apply to investing in public companies, however there is greater certainty, less risk and greater regulation and transparency (supposedly at least) in the banking and finance industries than in gambling. That is the case for the majority of people anyway.

    I suspect my comment is actually not relevant to your intended message and in any case the issues you raise are certainly valid and would find less resistance in Australia, I'm sure.

    On an unrelated matter, I wish to make a commercial proposal to Betfair regarding a product I have developed in relation to thoroughbred racing globally. Called Per-Form, the product could benefit Betfair in a variety of ways, among which by complimenting Timeform as an addition to that business, as a benefit to the Watercooler and TVG investments, as a standalone entity, and in both sponsorship for and marketing of Betfair in the racing industry.

    I have corresponded with many significant individuals and authorities in Australia, England and the US regarding the concept that is the foundation of Per-Form. I am certain Betfair is best placed to enjoy the potential benefits of my work and develop the vision I have for the business. I would greatly appreciate it if you could direct me to the appropriate person to speak to in your organisation or please contact me directly yourself:

  2. The Rev. All Green says

    If banking and gambling are so alike I wouldn't mind some of the bonuses these mugs get.

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