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Betting and

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BETTING AND appears that about the year 1853 the Legislature became rather suddenly aware of a widespread practice of betting, with the result that in the same year was passed the Setting Act, 1853. The preamble to the Act shows the view taken by the Legislature both of the nature of betting and of its effects; setting forth, as it does, that a kind of gaming had then of late sprung up, tending to the injury and demoralisation of improvident persons, by the opening of places called betting-houses or offices, and the receiving of money in advance by the owners or occupiers of such houses or offices, or by other persons on their behalf, on their promises to pay money on events of horse-races and the like contingencies. The Act then proceeds to provide for the suppression of betting-houses, and, subject to certain modifications, its operations extend to Scotland. In the first place, no house, office, room, or other place may be used by any person, whether owner, occupier, manager, or agent, for the pur pose of conducting, in any way, the business of betting with persons resorting thereto. Nor may such a place be used by such a person for the receipt of money or any valuable on account of any betting transaction relating to any horse or other race, fight, game, sport, or exercise. Receiving money to open a deposit account is unlawful (Rex v. Mortimer). A place so kept becomes a com mon nuisance and contrary to the law, and is, moreover, a common gaming house, subject to the law relating thereto. Any such person as before mentioned is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of £100 and costs, or imprisonment with hard labour for six months. Such a person, moreover, who receives a deposit on account of a bet, or gives any acknowledgment, note, security, or draft in respect of such receipt will, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine of 1'50 and costs, or three months' imprisonment with hard labour.

In this connection it should be noticed that any money or valuable received by such a person as aforesaid as a deposit or consideration for a bet may, or its value may, be recovered from such person by the party from whom it was received. The above provisions do not extend to the stakes or deposit to be paid to the winner of any race, or lawful sport, game, or exer cise, or to the owner of any horse engaged in any race. If a complaint or information has been laid in respect of a betting offence, and with which the complainant has failed or neglected to proceed with due diligence, the magistrates may authorise any other person to proceed on the same com plaint. A special search-warrant may be granted by a magistrate.

Many points arising out of the Betting Act have been at various times judicially considered. For example, as to the person liable, it has been held that no liability attaches to persons who are not in control and occupation of the place which is alleged to be the betting establishment ; thusrs race course company would not be liable in respect of the temporary betting establishment thereon of a betting man. Nor would a person who carried

on and managed a ]awful business of his own, taking no share or part in the illegal business of a betting-house carried on in the same place ; but the owner or occupier of that place would be liable if he knowingly and wilfully permitted the betting business to be carried on there. A "house, office, room, or other place " includes for the purposes of the Act any place which is sufficiently definite as a locality for the time being of a betting business ; accordingly a stool covered by a large umbrella, a certain spot with a loose wooden box, a piece of vacant ground to which the public have free access, and an archway leading from a street to a private yard in which were some private houses, have all been held to come within the meaning of the Act. Payment of a bet already made and lost would not be betting, and a book maker could safely use the bar of a public-house, or any other place for receiving such payment. To promote a sweepstake on a horse-race would not be an offence within the Act ; nor would merely walking about a field making bets, but not exercising the business of a bookmaker on a particular piece of ground; but to do so within a certain definite enclosure on a race course would constitute an offence. As we have seen above, the company owning the racecourse, and knowing of and permitting such a user of the enclosure as has been last mentioned, would not be liable under the Act— a decision having the high authority of the house of Lords, but otherwise incomprehensible in view of the other cases. The result of the decision is to make it difficult to decide when the owner or occupier of premises used for legitimate business is liable in respect of a betting business conducted therein to his own knowledge and with his consent. The safest course by far is for the man with a respectable business to have nothing to do with a betting business, and not to permit it to be conducted on his premises Members of a bond fide club may bet amongst themselves ; so also may betting be carried on privately in a private house amongst the owner's friends and boat fide guests. Betting in streets or public places, or in any open place to which the public are permitted to have access, including a railway carriage, is punishable under the Street Betting Act, 1906. And bye-laws, under the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882, and the Local Government Act, 1888, are made against the frequenting of streets and public places for the purposes of betting. See ADVERTISEMENTS; GAMING.