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Did anybody bet on Orpington in 1962?

December 31st, 2006

    When was the first legal political betting market?

orpington.JPGAs part of my research for my book on politics and betting I am trying to find the event on which there was the first legal betting market.

Betting became a mass market legal activity in October 1961 when high street betting shops were permitted for the first time.

I know that there was very active betting during the 1963 Tory leadership contest after the resignation of Harold Macmillan because that was when I placed my first ever political bet – a loser as it happens. I should have stopped then!

But can anybody recall betting activity on something earlier – and the biggest event in the intervening period was the Orpington by-election when Eric Lubbock secured a 32% swing for the Liberal and took the south east London suburban seat from the Tories with a majority of nearly 8,000.

This gave them a huge boost in the polls and by October 1962 they were the most popular party in the country.

Can anybody recall betting on this by election and, if possible, does anybody remember the odds? This would be a really helpful addition to the book.

I would be very grateful for any help. Either post it in the comments thread below or email me directly.

The 2007 Prediction Competition: This will now published on New Year’s Day.

Problems on Internet Explorer Visitors trying to use the site on IE are having problems viewing and taking part in discussions. This does not seem to be affecting those using Firefox. My son, Robert, is in Australia and I am trying to contact him to see if he can help.

Mike Smithson






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