Miss Mitford would have been less than pleased to know that, according to one British authority, international matches today (“test” matches in cricket parlance) often load the bookmakers of all the countries concerned with up to a quarter of a million pounds in betting money yearly.  Ordinary inter country matches in Britain can also carry a sizable fortune in stakes; and there are lottery based on the number of runs that individual batsmen make in each of the matches of the season.  Further down the scale, “beer” matches are often played between opposing clubs if a scheduled match ends early, the stake being a barrel of beer.

Golf is a noble sport with a history going back to the days of the Romans, whose version was called paganica and was played with a crooked stick and a ball stuffed with feathers.  Until recent years it has never attracted much of the gambler’s money, partly because of its special appeal to top people (it was adopted as a pastime by James I of England in 1618) who can afford the relatively expensive equipment and club membership dues demanded of players, and partly because of the extensive perambulations that are required of spectators.  But since the early part of the 19th century (until when the game was exclusive to Scotland)  there has been a great spread of its popularity and follow-up by the ever-increasing number of gamblers.  England sometimes allows bookmakers (usually under protest from the Professional Golfers’ Association ) to carry on their business at tennis tournament, but they are requested to be soberly dressed, refuse cash bets, and refrain from shouting the odds.

In America things are somewhat different, and about $ 500,000,000 gets gambled annually on golf-mostly in ways particularly suited to the game.  At many professional tournaments the bettors set up a kind of pool.  The players are “auctioned” –that is, gamblers bid to “own” a player, and they may pay up to $ 25,000 for a top man.  During play the “owners” can sell shares in their man (and sometimes even make a profit).  The money spent on “buying” the players goes into a pool that is shared out thus: 50 per cent to the owner of the winning play, 20 per cent to the owner of the second, 15 per cent to the third, 10 to the fourth, and 5 to the fifth.  (The owner of the winner usually gives his golfer 10 per cent of the winnings.)  In 1959, the total pool at the Las Vegas Annual Tournament of Champions was $ 285,000- a record at that time –and a Los Angeles man who backed the golfer Stan Leonard won $ 95,760.  Sometimes, according to some commentators, golf pools can be rigged; some of the top pools have been discontinued for this reason.  But smaller tournaments still often have such pools.

Many regions in America have developed their own special forms of golf-course gambling.  At Westchester County, N.Y., the favorite gamble is called bridge, and has bidding association with the card game.  Each person in a four-some tries to predict his score (the “bid”)for alternate holes; he wins one point for making his bid and one point for every stroke below it, at $ 1 a point.  Brook Hollow, Dallas, Texas, specializes in hammer – a cry made by either of two players (playing for $ 1 a hole), when the other plays a bad shot.  The hole must then be played out for an extra $ 25 as well as the original bet.  Wheel is particularly associated with the East Potomac club in Washington; each player of five foursomes makes 19 separate bets (the “wheel”) against his 19 opponents.  Pari-mutuel,  mainly a spectators’ gamble, is popular at Orchard Lake, Detroit, where each foursome in a tournament is a “horse.”  The Tam o’Shanter club in Chicago fosters bingle-bangle-bongo, which depends more on luck than skill.  On each hole the “bingle” is the first player whose ball reaches the green, the “bangle” is the player whose ball lies closest to the hole, and the ‘bongo” is the player who sinks the longest putt-each collecting a tribute that can vary from 50 cents to $ 50 apiece from the other members of the foursome.
Polo is an ancient Game based on savlajan, a variant of horse racing popular in Persia in the sixth century.  Today, because of the expense of buying and keeping polo ponies, polo is more of an upstage or specialist sport than, say, boxing or football, and the majority of gamblers pay correspondingly little attention to it.  There was, however, regular gambling on polo at a British polo club in the early years of this century.  The grounds were near a racecourse and spectators and bookmakers came over to watch polo after the races.

Bets were small, but people would bet astonishingly quickly on the game as it ran (and it’s fast game)- i.e., on who would score the next goal, or whether the man with the ball would score, or who would score  the most goals.  In India there has always been some private betting among onlookers at polo games, but the law prevents it from amounting to a great deal.  In Britain, in 1953, there was an unsuccessful attempt by the Polo Association to set up a totalizator, but a permit was not granted.

As for Tennis, there is no doubt that many private bets are made on the results of championship matches in tennis-mad countries like Australia.  Only a few bookmakers in most tennis-playing countries are interested enough to work out odds (which would be based on the proven abilities of the players).  You might be able to place a bet in France (for instance, on matches at the Tennis Club de Paris) if you were a regular customer of a bookmaker.  And Scandinavia permits bookies must stay outside if they want to shout the odds).  The English Lawn Tennis Association, on the other hand, have never dreamed (anyway officially )of lowering the tone of the game by permitting public poker gambling.  In fact in 1961 they sternly refused permission to a firm of bookmakers who wanted to set up shop at Wimbledon.