I have taken a couple of weeks off from chipping away at BANDWAGON which has given me some time to catch up with the usual events over Christmas. One thing of interest, and relevance to wagering, was a recent visit from my father with a few of my Grandfather's old notebooks.
My Grandfather was an SP bookmaker back in the day, which grew from a "hobby" to a small cottage industry from at least the 1960s through to the early 1980s. He was based in Sans Souci and ran books at several local bars including the St George Motorboat Club, Ramsgate Hotel, Ramsgate RSL, The Taren Point Hotel and a few others. The old boy's turf stretched through the majority of the greater Kogarah area with the blessing of the local constabulary. Said blessing was maintained regularly via offerings within brown envelopes and cardboard cartons - so I am told.
At its height, operations were conducted through a private flat in Bondi Junction and a staff of three taking bets by phone out of the back of the family home. So much so that my father was instructed not to call my mother (it was her dad) on either Wednesday or Saturday to keep the lines open for bets.
Each Thursday he would make his way to the Tattersalls Club to settle his books. Then, the following Monday, my Grandmother would totter down to the local bank to disperse funds in 15 separate bankbooks in 15 separate names. She was, and still is at 95, a very stern and proper woman. It's always hard to imagine her nicking down to the bank to do a little light money laundering.
It was certainly a different time.
Returning to the present, what my father arrived with is what I gather was an SP bookmaker's pamphlet outlining the rules and limits which would be given to a punter to make the game clear. Here it is below.
Note the blacked out initials!
A little scratching revealed the initials.
Not my Grandfather's initials so he must have pinched it from a competitor. Does anyone know who J.W.R may have been?
From a misdemeanour hobby through to the indictable offence that was the small business it grew into, he maintained that he paid taxes and "always made his money honestly" and that's why he never came afoul of the law. This may well be true but another piece of memorabilia (below) may shed some light on his good fortune.
As an SP bookie, having a senior minister and eventual deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party as your old boxing chum is certainly good for business. He had quite a few friends like these.
Here's to 2013 and the (legal) wagering industry.
Best luck to us all.