You Bet! The History of Betting, The National Museum of Horseracing

1st July 2013

Permanent Exhibition. Sponsored by the National Sporting League Benevolent Fund in memory of Charles Layfield.

Gimcrack, Stubbs c.1765

Although it is not essential to bet to enjoy an afternoon at the races, betting has been an important part of racing history. It became even more serious in the eighteenth century, when gentlemen owners laid odds against each other’s horses in addition to the sums put up as matches.

Bets were laid in clubs and drawing rooms, and indeed the Museum is housed in the old Subscription Rooms where men came to negoiate and settle their bets.

The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1961 reflected the Government’s belated realisation that betting should be regulated and legalised.

On display are some examples of the old style of betting slips with the traditional image of the bookmaker printed on the slip.

Of particular interest is the character Peter Mckay better known as Prince Monolulu a big, powerful coloured man who came to Britain from St Croix (Then a Danish possession, now part of the American Virgin Islands) in the early 1900’s.

With his baggy trousers and ostrich feathers , combined with his cry ‘I gotta horse’ he became by far the best-known racecourse tipster in the country. Two of his colourful jackets can be seen on display.

The National Horseracing Museum
99 High Street

National Horseracing Museum website
01638 667333

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