Leonard Street, London, EC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2011
Tempted London: Young men – [Anon.], [c1889]:
It is difficult to realize how large a hold the habit of betting has upon the young men of London. Gambling has to be conducted under circumstances which render it more or less difficult of attainment, and the clubs which may be regarded as the homes of gambling are of such a class that comparatively few young men can gain admittance to them. It is otherwise with betting. Every boy bets, almost from the cradle, and the tendency develops more strongly with each succeeding year. Its permeating influence is to be seen in the middle-class household and the daily school, so that when a youth goes to business it is quite a matter of course for him to offer to substantiate every statement he makes betting upon it. One only has to listen to the conversation of a group of schoolboys to realize this. A boy advances a remark, upon which another throws doubt. Immediately the first says ‘I’ll bet you it is so,’ and the second caps it by saying, ‘I’ll bet you it is not.’ It is only their mode of arguing, as of course they do not really bet, but it is significant of the depth of the national habit.