| Man Wins Wife in Lottery
and Other Lottery Scandals
LONDON, U.K. (January 27, 2015) --
Scandal, corruption, fraud and deceit are all words we are all well-accustomed
to hearing on a daily basis in the modern world. Whether it be in the realm of
business, politics, government, sport or relationships; there are always people
looking to cheat and exploit others.
Over the past 12 months in gambling, we
have seen poker pro Phil Ivey lose a high profile court case, Ben Affleck
banned from a casino for card counting and a constant string of stories
involving cheating, addiction and deception. With technology as it is, these
stories are well documented and spread like wildfire. But what about gambling
scandals before the days of the internet and Twitter?
At Jackpot.co.uk, we
headed down to the archives to investigate the gambling scandals of times gone
by. After cleaning off the dust and blowing away the cobwebs we found a gem of
a book from 1893 detailing the history of UK lotteries. Weve collated the
highlights of John Ashtons book, which include tales of weird and
wonderful lotteries as well as stories about lottery scammers and
neer-do-wells. Weve also included some original lottery handbills
Lotteries in their early forms provoked much debate, with
some seeing them as profitable government money-makers and others viewing them
as games that exploited the working class. In his book, Ashton makes clear
almost every crime that be imagined had been occasioned, either
directly to indirectly, through the baneful influence of
The dark side of the lottery reared its ugly head in 1787
when a British Member of Parliament named Francis unexpectedly lost £200
(equivalent to £27,400 today). Francis had entrusted the money to a
female servant to pay various tradesmens bills. Instead, the servant lost
the entire amount buying lottery tickets. Things then took a turn for the worse
when the servant was mysteriously found dead a week after the revelations
One of the strangest stories in Ashtons book involves
a very curious lottery where a man would win a wife as his prize in
a bi-annual lottery drawing.
Every May and December six girls who attended
Raines School, and were brought up in the parish of St. George in London, UK
would draw lots to decide which of them would marry a pre-selected bachelor.
The lucky lady would also receive £100 (equivalent to £19,000
today) and a handbag, in addition to the large church wedding. The unfortunate
losers of the lottery were encouraged to enter themselves again for future
draws until they finally won the matrimonial prize.
The marriage lottery was
set up by Henry Raine, a wealthy British brewer, who founded the school by the
same name. Contestants in the marriage lottery were described by Raine to
come trembling with hope and the winners would burst out into
tears with excess of joy. The practice of the marriage went on for well
over 100 years and Raines lottery was labelled objectionable
and criticised for the bitter disappointment it caused until it
finally ended at the turn of the 20th century.
The year 1784 saw the lottery
for the Leverian collection; an enormous assortment of natural history pieces
acquired from the voyages of Captain James Cook. After the owner, Ashton Lever,
went bankrupt and failed to sell the collection to the Empress of Russia or The
British Museum he received permission to sell it off in a lottery.
Leverian collection featured many animal oddities, which included: a double
headed calf, an eight legged pig, a hare with 7 legs, a cyclops kitten and a
puppy with two mouths. Despite the uniqueness of Levers collection, the
lottery was a flop; selling under a quarter of the expected tickets. The
lottery was won by a doctor who also was made bankrupt and forced to auction
off the same items several years later.
Lottery fraudster walks away with
The British government changed their minds on both
private and state lotteries on numerous occasions; sometimes deciding to ban
and legalise lotteries in the same year. The main reason cited for wanting to
ban private lotteries was the fraudulent practices which were rife in the
country at the time.
Lottery officer Peter Leheup was at the centre of an
inquiry by the House of Commons in 1754 into his suspected fraudulent
behaviour. It emerged that Leheup had given large numbers of tickets to
fictitious people and had been pocketing the winnings. Leheup was found guilty
and fined £1,000 (equivalent to £94,000 today) which would seem
like a hefty price to pay if it werent for the fact that the scam made
him the equivalent of £3.7 million in todays money.
gives government the middle finger
In 1826, the British government gave
in to mounting pressure to stop all state and private lotteries but not before
one final lottery could be drawn. The so called Death of the
Lottery was promoted relentlessly in the weeks prior to the draw. Ashton
writes, Men paraded the streets with large printed placards on poles, or
pasted on their backs announcing All Lotteries End for Ever! 18th
July. After the drawing of the last lottery in 1826, there wasnt a
lottery in England until Prime Minister John Major approved a state-franchised
lottery in 1993. However, North of the border, in Glasgow, Scotland they
refused to accept the 1826 ban issued by parliament and continued with the
lottery for a further decade.
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