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At Odds

At Odds: Gambling and Canadians, 1919-1969

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 296
  • Book Info
    At Odds
    Book Description:

    Using a rich variety of historical sources, Suzanne Morton traces the history of gambling regulation in five Canadian provinces ? Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and B.C. ? from the First World War to the federal legalization in 1969.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2100-8
    Subjects: History, Law, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    The lines at corner stores and ticket kiosks grow as cash jackpots reach record amounts. In the mall, one walks around a car parked in the aisle – the prize in local service club’s draw. Television commercials inform viewers that they can win big prizes with specially marked boxes of a product or that they can escape from their daily routine with a visit to the local casino. Even banks present us with sweepstake enticements urging us to switch to self-service or to take out larger consumer loans. Meanwhile, newspapers advertise a large number of commercial bingo halls offering games...

  5. Part One: Critics and Gamblers

    • CHAPTER ONE The Critics’ Views, 1919–1969: The Economic, Moral, and Social Costs of Gambling
      (pp. 23-39)

      The punch line in many Canadian jokes plays on the notion that English-speaking Canadians are unusually adherent to the law. The image of a country of obedient citizens patiently awaiting a light to turn green in the middle of the night, however, does not conform to Canadians’ actual behaviour in gambling. During the first seventy years of the twentieth century, most Canadians participated in some form of illegal gambling, yet there was a great reluctance to legitimate what people were actually doing via legal reform. This dissonance between law and behaviour exposed both the widespread ambivalence towards gambling and the...

    • CHAPTER TWO For Richer, for Poorer: Gambling, 1919–1945
      (pp. 40-66)

      Faced with economic, political, and social uncertainty between 1919 and 1945, Canadian men and women expressed their vulnerability in a variety of forms, including the active pursuit of luck in gambling. Canadians in their thousands broke the law enthusiastically as they purchased illegal tickets; organized unlawful lotteries, raffles, and sweepstakes; bet on horse and dog races; operated slot machines; and attended illicit bingo. The widespread nature of these activities cut across class, sex, age, region, and race. In a society marked by its lopsided distribution of wealth, uneven access to consumer goods, and periods of high unemployment, many people chose...

  6. Part Two: Masculine, Feminine, Other

    • CHAPTER THREE Gambling, Respectable Masculinity, and Male Sporting Culture
      (pp. 69-88)

      Dominant twentieth-century masculine ideals held that men had to negotiate a space between the call to be daring, courageous, and audacious and at the same time to be stable, dependable, and responsible. This apparent contradiction within masculinity was frequently expressed as the tension between ‘natural’ male instincts and the uplifting influences of civilization. Gambling and the arguments of its opponents provide a means of exploring this paradox in opposing notions of masculinity and highlight its conflicting demands. Between the First World War and the legalization of some forms of gambling in 1969, the anti-gambling movement’s arguments were premised on an...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Bingo, Women, and the Critics
      (pp. 89-107)

      ‘Bingo-playing mother denounced for gambling family allowance,’ screamed theMontreal Gazettein October 1945. In a Quebec Superior Court case for separation and alimony, the judge ruled that this woman had ‘a passion for games of chance. She spends every Saturday evening in parochial halls and not only risks on bingo sums of money disproportionate to her means, but also engages her young daughters in this degrading game.’ He ruled that she would be required to leave the family home, live with her brother, and endorse the newly introduced family allowance cheques over to her husband. A year later, as...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Gambling ‘Others’: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion
      (pp. 108-134)

      Current studies estimate that the Australians, followed by the British, spend more on gambling per capita than any other nation in the world, yet for the first half of the twentieth century the opponents of gambling in Canada associated the activity with other ethnic or religious minorities. According to the stereotypes of this largely Euro-American, Protestant group, Chinese gambled; Jews gambled; Catholics gambled. Aboriginal Canadians, while perhaps overpoliced, were invisible in the public discourse about gambling. The association of certain ethnic, racial, or religious groups with gambling, and how this connection evolved, illuminate both the practice of gambling and its...

  7. Part Three: Reaction and Reform, 1945–1969

    • CHAPTER SIX Professional Gambling and Organized Crime under Scrutiny
      (pp. 137-168)

      Gangsters and organized crime are not themes normally associated with the Canadian experience. In a confident tone, theOttawa Journalin 1943 presumed that it had to explain to its readers that ‘racket,’ ‘a word from American cities,’ referred to the connection between criminals and politicians, but was not applicable in Canada. ‘We pride ourselves, as a British country, on our honest police forces and our fair courts – and with these aids to collective virtue organized crime cannot long endure.’¹ But these assurances did not ring true about most of the country. During the war, public concern about professional...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER SEVEN Redefining the Public Interest: Gambling, Charity, and the Welfare State
      (pp. 169-196)

      After the Second World War, increased tolerance towards non-commercial gambling coincided with new perspectives on moral issues as diverse as alcohol, extramarital sex, and Sunday observance. A permissive climate reflected the general secularization of a pluralistic society and, in particular, the decline in the ability of the traditional Protestant churches of ‘old Canada’ to establish and maintain the dominant moral standards. But their power did not disappear overnight. By midcentury, the vast majority of Canadians supported legal access to some form of gambling, but an effective anti-gambling lobby staved off change until the revision of the Criminal Code in 1969....

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 197-202)

    In remembering the moral climate of his Victorian, Methodist childhood in Ontario, historian Arthur Lower recalled that the taboos about cards, dances, Sunday reading, and even alcohol were ‘intermittent.’¹ This admission of the lack of consistency within one household offers an entrance into Canada’s erratic approach towards gambling between 1919 and 1969. It is a story as much about continuity as about change. From the First World War to the revision of the Criminal Code in 1969, an overlapping of moral and economic concerns led to maintenance of unenforceable laws and the absence of a political consensus to bring these...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 203-246)
  10. References
    (pp. 247-260)
  11. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 261-262)
  12. Index
    (pp. 263-272)