'A terrible danger to the morals of the country': The Irish hospitals' sweepstake in Great Britain, 1930-87

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper examines the importance of British contributions to the success of the Irish hospitals sweepstake. In its early years, up to three-quarters of these tickets were sold in Britain, bringing millions of pounds into Ireland annually to improve and expand the state's hospitals. The vast amount of money leaving Britain in this way angered the British government and forced it to introduce new legislation to curtail the activities of the Irish sweep. The paper will highlight the extent to which the success of the sweepstake depended on the market for tickets in Britain; the threat to the sweep's survival posed by the restriction of its activities in Britain after 1935; the role of the sweepstake controversy in exacerbating further already strained relations between Britain and the Irish Free State in the 1930s; how the success of the sweep raised the issue of legalising a British lottery; and the eventual decline of the sweepstake as a force in British gambling in the post-war years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-220
Number of pages24
JournalRoyal Irish Academy. Proceedings. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics and Literature
Volume105c (5)
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005


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