Duggan, Richard Joseph (1878–1934), turf accountant, businessman, and founder of the Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake, was born 21 March 1878 in Dublin, fourth child among three sons and two daughters of Patrick Duggan, clerk, originally from Waterford, and Mary Duggan (née Burrows). Educated at CBS, North Richmond St., Dublin, where he was said to have ‘a wonderful head for figures’ (Webb, 24), he went to work as a trainee with Monson Robinson printers, but his interest in horseracing led him to work for the turf accountant R. A. Hanby before establishing his own business as a turf accountant about 1912, operating under the slogan ‘What Duggan lays, he pays’ (ibid., 26). In 1918 he organised his first sweepstake, raising £1,000 for survivors and dependants of victims of the torpedoed mailboat Leinster. As sweepstakes grew in popularity in 1920s Ireland, he became the most prominent organiser of them, raising £10,000 for the Mater Hospital in a sweep on the 1922 Manchester November handicap. Efforts by the Irish Free State government to curtail large sweepstakes forced him to move his business to Switzerland in 1923, from where he organised two sweepstakes for the Meath Hospital, raising £10,000 and £5,000 respectively. The success of these sweepstakes was based on the large market for tickets outside Ireland, especially in Britain, where gambling became increasingly popular in the 1920s. Duggan's commission from these ventures was never revealed but was believed to be substantial. In November 1924 he was convicted in the Dublin district court of organising an illegal sweepstake, bound over to keep the peace for twelve months, and forced to give an undertaking not to run any more sweepstakes. However, in 1927 he organised a sweep on the Epsom Derby from Liechtenstein.
In 1930 an act of the oireachtas inaugurated an Irish hospitals' sweepstake to raise money for the building and maintaining of voluntary hospitals, which were undergoing a financial crisis that threatened their survival. The franchise to run the sweepstakes was given to Duggan's company, Hospitals' Trust Ltd, in which his partners were Joseph McGrath (qv) and Capt. Spencer Freeman (qv). Three sweepstakes were organised every year on the major English horseraces. The sweepstakes were extremely successful in the 1930s, making a considerable financial profit for the three organisers. Much of the profits were invested in Irish companies such as the Irish Glass Bottle Co., Dublin Shirt and Collar Co., Solus, Fyffes, and the White Swan laundry. Among Duggan's other business interests was the Spa Hotel, Lucan, which he established in an effort to provide a continental-style spa in Ireland. He was a member of a number of business organisations including the Irish Free State Federation of Industries and the National Agricultural and Industrial Development Association.
His career as a bookmaker and sweepstake promoter stemmed from his lifelong interest in horseracing and he was one of the principal racehorse owners in Ireland. In 1934, not long before his death, most of his horses were sold at auction in Goffs, where his sweepstake colleague Joe McGrath paid an Irish record 4,000 guineas (£4,200) for Smokeless, which was to form the basis of McGrath's racing empire. Duggan's other sporting interest was golf, and he was a member of Hermitage Golf Club, Lucan, Co. Dublin.
He married (3 February 1909) Mary Brigid, daughter of Richard Rogers and Catherine Rogers (née Weldon), of Ardee, Co. Louth, with whom he had seven children. His wife died from heart disease on 23 July 1920. Towards the end of his life Duggan lived at ‘Wilton’, Merrion Road, Dublin. He died of cancer on 4 November 1934, leaving an estate valued at £77,604. His sons, Patrick and Richard, succeeded him in the Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake. Most of the profits he earned from the sweepstake were invested in a trust fund, Avenue Investments, for the benefit of the descendants of the three sweepstake promoters.