The 1960 legislation financially destroyed the street bookmakers in Britain.  The street bookies were never legal, but their professional gambling association(The Street Bookmaker’s Federation) has always paid their fines in the past if they were arrested and they had prospered in a small way.  Many could no longer afford the money needed to legalize themselves, not the heavy overheads of shop furniture and staff hire.  Neither could they afford to pay the stinging new fines (up to $ 280 for the first offense, up to $ 560 for the second, and an additional three months imprisonment for the third) to which street bookies became liable after the Act.

But it would be wrong to leave the impression that there are absolutely no restrictions on the professional bookmaker in Britain.  There are several.  Bookmakers by law may not advertise a shop’s whereabouts and the facilities it offers.  They may not encourage bets, offer waiting clients the pleasures of television or radio, serve refreshments, or offer inducements of any kind of remain on the premises.  But providing they observe these restrictions, they have nothing to worry about legally.

An evening session at the London School of Turf Accountancy, where students receive detailed instruction and traing in all aspects of the bookmaker’s profession.  Within a few weeks of its opening in 1963, about 450 students had enrolled at the school.

In the few other countries where off-track bookmaking is legal the story is often very similar, though naturally slight variations occur from place to place.  In New Zealand (where off-track betting has been legal since 1950) bets must be placed with the bookie at least 90 minutes before a race, and are then transmitted to a central office.  In Western Australia and Tasmania, where most of Australia’s off-track bookmakers are centered, bets may be placed (as a Britain) right up to the start of the race But the minimum bet allowed is five shillings.  (in Britain the minimum is usually two shillings.)

After a successful police raid on the headquarters of a New York betting ring, a detective answers calls from unsuspecting clients and records their bets evidence.

In Western Germany bookmakers are legal on and off the course, but by far the greater percentage of the betting is done through totalizators.  Bookmakers and the organizers of totalizators must each pay a tax of 16 % of their income.  Bookmakers are illegal in Italy, though there is a certain amount of tote betting.  Most of the money bet on horse racing in Italy goes on pools controlled by the Italian National Olympic Committee.  In 1962 the equivalent of over $ 6,000,000 was spent in this way.

Bookmakers are illegal in France (which doesn’t mean they don’t exist) and most horse races is done via the tote.  Since 1933 a pari-mutuel system has been operating that permits off-track betting through authorized agents but these are not bookmakers.  Since off-track bettors in France have to pay a government tax from 1  1/5 to 1 4/5 % on all bets over 10 francs (about two dollars), it is hardly surprising that more than two thirds of the total betting on races is done at the tracks.

The mechanics of betting legally in America were discussed at length in Chapter 8.  Bookies (on-or off-track) are strictly illegal, except in Nevada.  Nevertheless they continue to flourish in many states partly because (according to the U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy) they pay “protection money” to local politicians and policemen.  An American bookmaker’s business can be carried on discreetly behind the public’s back: Since most of the betting is on credit, and over the telephone, all the bookie really needs is a room with a phone.  And generally the amount he pays in protection money is in proportion to the number of telephones he has.  (In recent years bookies were paying as much as $ 450 per week telephone in New York City.)

All in all, American bookmaking seems practically as big-time as in Britain, in spite of the law.  Some figures quoted by Mr. Kennedy indicate the extent of its success: An Indiana bookie once received a total of $ 1,156,000 in bets over a period of three days; a Los Angeles bookie took in $ 4,511,000 in a year; and a Chicago bookie’s annual income was about $ 6,400,000.

Tipsters (or touts) add color and excitement to race tracks the world over.  Above, the Maori Prince Ras Monolulu, Britain’s best-known tipster, suggests a likely poker winner to a bettor at Epsom.  A Japanese tipster in action .

The bookmaker is probably the most prominent of the professional gamblers who make their living by providing gambling facilities for others –prominent because he is the one with whom the general public has most contact.  But equally important is the professional gambler casino.  The workings of casinos will be examined in the next chapter; here we can round off our survey of professional gambling with a brief look at the early career of the most famous of all casino owners, François Blanc-the man who created Monte Carlo.

Blanc’s career was unusual from start to finish.  He was born in 1806 near Avignon in the South of France, and by the time he was 28 had made enough money from his speculations on the stock exchange to open a small bank in Bordeaux together with his twin brother Louis.  Once the bank was safely launched, the Blanc brothers settled down to speculating on the stock exchange on a grand scale.

American  tipsters offer their “tip sheets” to passers-by at the Hialeah race track, Florida.

At that time the monopoly of the télégraphe aérien (a primitive system of signaling from town to town by means of telescopes and heliographs) was held by the state.  When the Blanc brothers attempted to set up their own telegraphic system, they were blocked by this state monopoly.  However, this didn’t deter them; they knew one of the operators at the existing telegraph station personally and with his help planned to adapt it for their own use.  A series of code signals was arranged between them, and in this manner the Blancs were able to get texas holdem information concerning fluctuations on the stock exchange, and thus to get the jump on their rival bankers.

Unfortunately for the Blanc their scheme was given away by  telegraph official on his deathbed.  Of course, there was an uproar – even though similar systems had been employed by rival bankers.  (The Rothschilds, for example, had great success with a pigeon-post news service.)  The Blanc brothers were immediately prosecuted for using state secrets; it was discovered that they had made the equivalent of more than $ 500,000.  But their counsel proved to the satisfaction of the president of the court that their activities were completely above-board, and they were acquitted and allowed to keep their profits.

After this the Blanc brothers moved to Paris.  Gambling was about to be suppressed in France at any moment, but the casinos were clearly making vast profits.  So the Blancs looked around for a less conspicuous place than Paris where they could finance a casino and cash in on the gambling boom.  They found the perfect place in the semi-bankrupt area of Hesse-Homburg where the landgrave ( a German count having territorial jurisdiction) was only too pleased to sell them a concession for the building of a casino.

Once the casino was built, the brothers began to advertise it widely.  They made great play of the curative values of the local waters, and of the fact that they were adventurously going to lessen the bank’s advantage by reducing the number of zeros on the roulette game operated wheels from two to one, and by halving the bank’s advantage in trente-et-quarante.  They were wise enough to realize that so long as they retained even a small percentage they could never lose, and that in time they would gain more customers by this policy.  They were proved right by the fact that six years after the casino has opened they were said to be making a net profit of more than $ 100,000 a year.
Even when Prince Charles Bonaparte won nearly $ 15,000 in six days play and brought the casino’s reserves down to rock bottom, François Blanc (who had assumed sole charge because of the illness of Louis) was quick to see that he could benefit from advertising the fact.  Blanc’s public relations were masterly.  He produce lavish posters and pamphlets and distributed them throughout Europe.  He  managed to talk the railway authorities into running a line to the casino, and persuaded the French national theatre company (the Comédie Française) to come and give performances. Always he concentrated his attention on people rich and famous enough to be an attraction in themselves.

But his most triumphant moment as a casino entrepreneur was in 1863, when he obtained the apparently useless gambling concession of the principality of Monaco.  The result of that coup will be seen in the next chapter.