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Helen Monica Mabel Vernet (1877 - March 30, 1956) was the first woman Licenced Bookmaker in 1918.
On course representative for Ladbrokes from the 1920s to the early 1950s whose gender and upper class background made her unique amongst the racecourse bookmaking fraternity. She gambled away an £8,000 inheritance as a young woman and came to the conclusion that laying rather than punting might be more profitable. Her poor health saw her doctors advise a career with lots of fresh air with veterinary science suggested as an option. However, the alternative career involving animals was probably not what they had in mind. Vernet began her career as a surreptitious taker of bets among the privileged set at racecourses around 1918 with her background giving her access to the Members area. Many of her early clients were women who couldn't or wouldn't be seen dead near a bookmaker. Vernet was warned off after bookmakers complained to the racing authorities but she had been spotted by Arthur Bendir of Ladbrokes who reckoned she would be an asset to his company. She accepted his offer of a job and became hugely successful in the ring because of her uniqueness. Furthermore, women who had placed their small bets with her in previous years now brought their men to place their (much larger) bets with her. By the end of the 1920s she was a partner in Ladbrokes and became a feature of British racecourses for almost three decades working from a wheelchair in her later years.
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