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As explained on this website, children under the age of 18 are not allowed in a betting shop under any circumstances. This is obviously a very different situation from the law that now applies to pubs. Following on from my post earlier this week about the links between drinking and gambling, I thought I would ask on Twitter whether people felt this restriction should be relaxed. The results, as shown below, were a pretty decisive no.
POLL: Should accompanied under-18s be allowed in betting shops? (Not obviously to place bets themselves)
— Pub Curmudgeon 🍻 (@oldmudgie) February 10, 2020
However, this comes across as more than a touch hypocritical. Is the action of taking your child with you into a pub while you have a pint really much different in principle from taking them into the bookie’s while you put a tenner on Brewer’s Droop in the 4.15 at Catterick? Obviously taking a child into a pub for a meal is a different situation, but otherwise both are a case of a child accompanying its parent while they carry out what is basically an adult activity. The child is expected to behave as well as possible while they’re there, but they’re not there for their own benefit.
Some people look on taking children to the pub through highly rose-tinted spectacles.
Teaching your child to drink responsibly in a place where other things happen, socialising, eating, children with toys/books, entertainment yes, but gambling is morally wrong, it is rich people preying on vulnerable poor people, not something to promote to my child.
— Ben (@TheForumWithBen) February 12, 2020
The reality, though, can be very different:
I don’t really think children belong in pubs either. I used to get dragged along to watch my dad get drunk and I was bored shitless.
— Jonathan Smith (@smithjonathan) February 12, 2020
The reason children were excluded from betting shops was to protect their own interests, not for the convenience of the punters. But are they really corrupting of the young by several orders of magnitude greater than pubs? The article I linked to above suggests that, if adults find it difficult to put a bet on with a child in tow, they should consider internet betting instead. However, that fails to recognise that, for many, physically placing a bet and then possibly watching the result on TV, is a kind of “getting out of the house” social ritual in just the same way as going to the pub.
Betting shops are also, of course, prohibited from selling alcoholic drinks. But, as well as the ban on children, they are also required to have opaque windows to stop people on the street gawping inside, something else that is now less and less common in pubs. So spending an hour or so there might not actually be all that unpleasant...