AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

LOOK SHARPE: In Defence Of Betting

Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE is BACK! πŸ™Œ

In his all-new LOOK SHARPE column, Graham will be delving deep into horse racing’s topical talking points and the interesting, intriguing, controversial and out-of-the-ordinary things that have been hitting the news…

Read the latest installment below!

FEW subjects attract as much ignorant criticism as gambling/betting on racehorses, greyhounds and other sporting contests…

So much of it is hypocritical rubbish, based on the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ school of thought – with, for example, many of those happy to buy National Lottery tickets (‘oh, but profits go to such worthy causes, it’s not really gambling’) bristling with rage when you dare to mention to them that you regularly place modest wagers on the outcome of races and sporting contests of many different types.

‘Gambling is evil and disgusting’ they rant. To which the best reply is – maybe it is to you, so well done for not doing it – but it isn’t to me, so I have every right – legal and moral – to indulge in it as much as I like.

I’ve genuinely met only a couple of people I would regard as compulsive gamblers during my 50+ years in the business – they were people who knew full well what they were doing was wrong but always managed to find an unlikely explanation to justify their behaviour.

Of course, with the Grand National looming up we’ll hear much more from the ‘anti-gambling and anti-racing’ critics, as the day of the race approaches – including from those threatening to use the race to spread their own minority messages unrelated to racing and betting – and in the process quite possibly putting at risk the well-being and even the lives of both humans and animals taking part.

For some reason, the willingness of so many punters to enjoy enhancing the enjoyment of a sporting contest by risking a modest amount of money on the outcome, drives those who allegedly object on some never properly explained ‘moral grounds’ to a kind of moral madness of their own.

It seems not to be enough for them just to say ‘I choose not to gamble, but should you wish to do so, then I will support your right to do it, in the same way that I may vote for one particular political party, but support your right to vote for another.’

Not that long ago, out for a morning jog around a local wooded area, I spotted a notice at the entrance – ‘Vagrants, idlers, squatters, gamblers and card-sharpers are excluded’. Yet I suspect a good proportion of us would rather pass time with such folk, than with others who seek to prevent us from doing things we enjoy just because they believe they are entitled by sitting on what they regard as the moral high ground to do so.

There seems to be a feeling that perhaps gambling is somehow infectious, that it can be ‘caught’ by those currently believing themselves to be ‘immune’ to it. A sickening moral superiority and patronising attitude permeates the rhetoric of those who would save us from our baser instincts by keeping us from our flutters, wagers, bets and punts.

Yet, it is not unusual to hear such folk talking in glowing and emotional terms of such legendary equines as Red Rum, Shergar, and Honeysuckle, and horsey people such as Rachael Blackmore, Lester Piggott and, er, Matt Chapman.

The thrills and anticipation which come with the merest of modest gambles has resulted in numerous theories about what drives it – it is greed, is it psychological – sexual, even? Probably a combination of all of these and more.

No one involved in the gambling industry should want to see people persuaded, or encouraged to bet beyond their means – but – as with many other more ‘respectable’ pursuits such as in my own, and Star Sports colleague Simon Nott’s cases, the frequent purchase of vinyl records and CDs to sate our desire for new but old music or those who ‘invest’ in fine art and antiques – some may be tempted to over-indulge and over-spend.

They deserve help and understanding, not abuse and ridicule.

But, when all is said and done, we must understand that we live in an intrinsically free society in which we are entitled to use our own honestly acquired finances in whatever way we blooming well please – but I bet not everyone will agree with that…..any more than they will agree with my current belief that a couple of bob each way on Delta Work may not be the worst way to go in the National…




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