The origins of the Irish hospitals' sweepstake

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the two main reasons for the setting up of the Irish sweepstakes in 1930; the financial crisis facing voluntary hospitals and the tradition of using sweepstake gambling to raise funds for charitable purposes. Such gambling, although technically illegal, was prevalent and widely tolerated during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The change of government that accompanied Irish independence in 1921 led to much confusion surrounding the law on gambling and large-scale sweepstakes proliferated during the early 1920s, many of them selling tickets illegally in Britain. At the same time the Irish voluntary hospitals faced a financial crisis that threatened their future, brought about by the adverse impact of war-time inflation on the value of their endowments, the emigration of supporters of the Protestant voluntary hospitals after independence, the political upheaval of the revolutionary period, the decline in fees from medical students and the increasing cost of and demand for hospital treatment. This article provides a detailed account of the enactment of the sweepstake legislation and of the first sweepstake on the 1930 Manchester November Handicap.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-55
Number of pages16
JournalIrish Economic and Social History
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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