A Young Pretender In The Sport Of Kings

06:53 Friday 12th October 2012
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Race day, it’s usually seen as a nice family day out. You go to the races, take your family, take a picnic. But what if it’s encouraging kids to gamble from an early age? BBC Radio Cambridgeshire has been told that teenagers in the county are gambling before they turn 18, because their parents are placing bets for them. Our reporter Maaiysa Valli met 16 year old George, who’s been gambling at the races with his mum since he was 10. (TAPE)
GEORGE: I just get my mum to place a bet, but it will be petty money like £2, nothing major like hundreds. I’m not peer-pressured into doing it. I do it because everyone else does it, and my mum says yes, you can have a little bet. It’s no big thing. We bet together, kind of thing. So I put £2 in, she’ll put £2 in. So I wouldn’t necessarily put £20 on a horse, because that’s just a waste of money. It’s too much of a risk. So I’m sensible with my money when it comes down to it.
MAAIYSA VALLI: And has your mum taught you to be sensible with the money?
GEORGE: Yes. It’s just common sense at the end of the day. I don’t have a job to earn the money to constantly spend on it. It’s just an occasional thing. I go out and go it because I’m in an environment where everyone else is doing it.
MAAIYSA VALLI: Now how did you first get into it, and when did you first go?
GEORGE: At the age of 10 I think I went to the July Course. We’d just go around the book, and would look through the horses, the odds. My mum would explain it to me, say well, this one’s got a good chance of winning. I’d say yes, OK, bet on that one and see how it goes.
MAAIYSA VALLI: And how did it go? Tell me about your first bet. Tell me about your first win.
GEORGE: I can’t remember a lot of it, but they weren’t massive winners. It would be £2, and maybe we would win about a tenner. Small odds. We wouldn’t bet on anything which had ridiculous odds.
MAAIYSA VALLI: What’s the most money you’ve ever won them?
GEORGE: I placed, well I got someone else to place £10, and I got £120 from that. In a way I’m just maybe more careful, because I’m just like, well, that is a lot of money, and I know it doesn’t always turn out like that, and it was a one-off.
MAAIYSA VALLI: And winning that amount of money, how did it make you feel?
GEORGE: Happy. Yes, overjoyed. Money for nothing, basically.
MAAIYSA VALLI: As you get older, will you be placing bigger bets? Because you won’t always have your mum to go with. You might end up going yourself.
GEORGE: By bigger bets, probably the maximum I’d go to would be about £10 or £15. But I have to have a lot of confidence in that horse, or obviously a tip-off.
MAAIYSA VALLI: Do you realise that obviously it’s betting, and betting is actually illegal for people who are under eighteen. What do you think to that?
MAAIYSA VALLI: I’d place a bet simply because there’s a mutual feeling it’s a fun thing to do. Encouraging me to do it? You don’t go to the races every day, so just do it occasionally, and that’s fine. I don’t see a big problem with it, why it should be illegal, because everyone else is doing it, and I’d feel like there’s a need to do it. In many ways it is a family day out, and seeing as betting is the main thing you do at the races, well you can’t help bring your family into that kind of activity. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: That’s amazing. Only ten years old, and betting at the races with his mum’s permission.