Committee on Finance. - Gaming and Lotteries Bill, 1955— Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The object of this Bill is to re-enact, with amendments, the laws which prohibit gaming and lotteries while exempting from this prohibition, on certain conditions which are set out in the Bill, the holding of small lotteries for charitable purposes and gaming for small stakes at travelling shows and carnivals and also, in certain circumstances, in amusement halls and fun-fairs. And the opportunity has been taken to clarify the law, much of which is a relic of antiquity, and to repeal a score or more of the statutes in which it is contained.

The principle upon which we have proceeded is that gaming is not wrong in itself, but that public gaming needs to be severely restricted to prevent fraud and excess. We feel, however, that the prohibition should stop short of a prohibition of minor forms of gaming and the holding of small lotteries for charitable purposes which have long been sanctioned by public opinion. Accordingly it is proposed to authorise gaming for small stakes at travelling shows, carnivals and fun-fairs by which I mean amusement halls providing a variety of attractions of the type that are to be found at many holiday and seaside resorts.

Gaming and lotteries are more open to abuses and to the danger of fraud than betting on horses and dogs, which has, moreover, this to recommend it that it helps to support the horse and dog breeding industries, and gaming and lotteries are, therefore, activities which, in our view, are rather to be tolerated than favoured. We are not kill-joys and we recognise that the law as it stands is a bad example of class legislation since, like the prohibition of off the course betting which was abolished in 1926, it was designed to deny to the working classes facilities for recreation and amusement that were readily available to the well-to-do. However, we do not want to see rash or foolish persons ruin themselves and their families by excessive gambling or to create a powerful vested interest in the form of professional gamblers and racketeers such as those whose activities have caused the public authorities so much trouble in other parts of the world.

The Bill is in five parts, the first of which need not detain us at this stage as it is concerned merely with definitions and repeals. Gaming is dealt with in Parts II and III of the Bill. Part IV deals with lotteries and Part V is concerned with enforcement, evidence and penalties.

Under Part II of the Bill gaming, which is defined in the first part as "playing a game for stakes hazarded by the player", is declared to be unlawful "in which by reason of the nature of the game, the chances of all the players, including the banker, are not equal or in which a toll is levied on the stakes or for the right to take part in which any charge is made". However, it is not the players but the persons who promote or provide facilities for unlawful gaming that we want to get after and it is they alone who will be committing an offence. This in effect is the position under existing law.

Owing to the difficulties that have been experienced in proving, in the case of particular games, that the chances of all the players, including the banker, are not equal, the definition of unlawful games in the Gaming Act, 1845, has been widened so as to include gaming... "in which a toll is levied on the stakes or for the right to take part in which any charge is made". The new definition will, it is felt, bring within its ambit all gambling games (such as pongo) irrespective of whether they are games of skill or chance, and will render the promoters liable to prosecution. As the purpose of the Bill is to control what might be described as the commercial promotion of gaming, sub-section (2) of Section 4 exempts what may be described as "private" gaming. Thus, the playing of a game for money in a club or at a whist drive will not be unlawful where the provisions of the sub-section are fulfilled.

Before leaving the definition sections I would draw attention to the definition of "slot-machines" in Section 9. It is the intention that the section will provide for a complete prohibition on coin-operated machines which, when successfully operated, automatically deliver a prize of greater value than the stake. Slot-machines are really a lottery device. In playing the machines one inserts a coin in a slot and receives two or more coins or the equivalent in the form of a token or a prize if one succeeds in winning. These machines usually return twothirds of the money taken in, but they can be rigged to return only one-third or less. To put it another way, the owner normally gets 1d. for every 3d. staked and may get 2d. or more.

Section 8, which prohibits gaming on licensed premises, and Section 10 which provides penalties for cheating, are simply restating existing law. It is intended, however, that where there is only one charge in respect of the day on which the game is played the charge will not constitute part of the stakes hazarded by the player and in consequence playing of games such as whist or rings or darts, in which there are no side-stakes, but in which the player hazards his entry fee in a competition to win a prize will not come within the definition of gaming and will not be prohibited on licensed premises. This is simply a case of removing the technical offence which is at present committed by the operation of some of these harmless games in public houses, licensed hotels and clubs.

I should now like to explain how the Bill proposes to deal with the public promotion of games of chance. As I mentioned earlier, the Government's attitude is that gaming, whether in the form of wagering, games of chance or lotteries, is not bad in itself but that excessive gaming brings definite evils in its train. So long as gaming is carried on in moderation under conditions which preclude fraud, we see nothing wrong with it. In consequence, we are providing, in Section 6, that games of chance may be promoted without a licence at circuses and travelling shows, in any one place for a period of one week in every three months, where gaming is not the main activity of the show and the stake is not more than 6d. a time. It may be that a 6d. stake is too high and that it ought to be reduced. As to this I have an open mind but I am satisfied that to permit gaming for stakes in excess of 6d. a time might lead to the loss of considerable sums. It has in fact been suggested to me by persons engaged in the amusement business that the stake should be limited to a 3d. piece.

Gaming without a licence is to be allowed at carnivals, bazaars, sports meetings, etc., where gaming is not the main activity and where the organisers get no personal profit. But, of course, the prescribed conditions with respect to the age of the players and the size of the stakes will have to be observed.

I come now to Part III of the Bill which provides for the commercial promotion of games of chance in amusement arcades and fun-fairs during the holiday season. We have some misgivings about making provision for anything but occasional gaming but, again, having regard to the fact that there is a public demand at tourist resorts during the holiday season for amusements of one kind or another — particularly if the weather happens to be wet—and that the force of public opinion has not been behind the prohibition of gaming of the type in question at holiday resorts, we think that it would be better to regulate what is happening rather than to persist in the effort to enforce a law that cannot be enforced unless it has public opinion behind it. As a precaution against the establishment of chains of gaming houses, under the guise of amusement arcades, the Bill provides several safeguards, in particular that premises can only be licensed for part of the year (the holiday season) after the local authority—the urban council, borough council, etc., as the case may be— passes a resolution in favour of the establishment of such premises.

We feel that it is a wise precaution to place responsibility on the local authority for having this kind of gaming in their town and that the people of a town, through their elected representatives, should have the right to say whether gaming saloons should or should not be allowed to open. We do not want the local inhabitants to be forced to have gaming saloons whether they want them or not. Furthermore, when a local authority has passed a resolution adopting this part of the Bill it will have the right of being heard in court in support of or against particular applications. The police also will have a right of audience in court and may give evidence as to the character of the applicant and suitability of the premises from the point of view of police supervision.

Section 14 of the Bill indicates the various conditions which the District Court may attach to the grant of a certificate and Section 19 requires the licensee to display a notice in a conspicuous position near the entrance of his premises setting out the conditions of the licence.

Part IV of the Bill is concerned with lotteries. Sections 22 and 23 of the Bill authorise the holding of private lotteries and lotteries at carnivals, without restriction, provided that the conditions specified in the sections are fulfilled. Our idea here is that lotteries of this type are normally on such a small scale that no specific restrictions are needed. We recognise, however, that there is a public demand that will not be denied for lotteries on a somewhat larger scale for charitable purposes and the provision we have made is that such lotteries may be held only under a police permit in the case of an occasional lottery and under licence from the District Court in the case of periodic lotteries. The general conditions which are to govern the holding of these lotteries are that they shall comply with the conditions specified in Sections 25 and 26 of the Bill, chief amongst which are the conditions that the prize fund shall not exceed the sum of £300 and that the permit or licence holder shall derive no personal benefit from the lotteries. We have fixed the prize fund at a maximum of £300 with the deliberate purpose of excluding professionals from the promotion of lotteries and keeping expenses down to a minimum.

We recognise that the promoters of such lotteries have to rely wholly or chiefly on voluntary workers and this, we think, is as it should be. The promotion of a lottery on a week-to-week basis with £300 in prizes is a formidable undertaking which will require very hard and unselfish work on the part of the promoting charity and to raise the prize fund above £300 or the allowance for expenses above 25 per cent. of the proceeds would take such lotteries out of the category of voluntary charitable work and into the realm of professional promotion. And this is something that ought, we feel, to be avoided.

The provisions of Section 26 have been drafted with regard to the situation that exists at present whereby a number of charities are promoting £300 weekly lotteries. Prior to 1953 the limit was £100 and some years before that £30. As you are aware these lotteries in aid of charities are illegal under existing law and their toleration extending back over 40 years has been on the basis that the organisers give their time and labour free. Unfortunately, at the £300 mark some charity promotions, in an endeavour to outpace rivals and to get in as much money as possible, have been paying clerical staffs, organisers, agents and collectors and it is obvious that, if the prize money were to be raised any higher, the increased sales of tickets necessitated could only be got by an increase in the number of collectors, etc., receiving payment for their services. Furthermore the number of lotteries which could operate on a countrywide scale would necessarily be few and the purposes for which they might be promoted would not necessarily be the most deserving. For instance, some sports organisations with thousands of members might create a virtual monopoly for themselves and in the process bring to an end the innumerable small parish charity promotions which fulfil such good purposes as helping the sick and the aged, relieving poverty and distress, advancing religion and education.

Another point which should be borne in mind is that while 25 per cent. of the gross proceeds for expenses is adequate in the case of lotteries promoted by unpaid voluntary workers (if there is an excess it goes to the charity, anyway) it is not sufficient when the promotion loses its parochial character and depends on paid agents, collectors, etc., etc. As it is, even at the £300 point, representations have already been made to me that some of the existing lotteries cannot carry on unless the percentage for expenses is raised to 40 per cent. or more and an examination of figures supplied shows that over £1 in every £2 10s. collected goes in expenses of one kind or another. I should like Deputies to consider carefully the implication of providing higher prizes and greater percentages of the proceeds for expenses. I am aware that Deputies are being asked for their support in that regard and I should like them to think twice before raising the matter.

In looking at the remaining provisions in Part IV of the Bill relating to lotteries Deputies will observe that there is a prohibition on advertising of any kind—another provision which emphasises their private nature and the intention that they should operate within local limits. Furthermore, tickets or prizes cannot be sent outside the State. There is no prohibition, however, on a charity outside the State from being a beneficiary of a lottery promoted and conducted wholly within the State.

Part V of the Bill, which relates to enforcement, evidence and penalties, does not call for any comment from me at this stage, save in relation to Section 34 which continues the existing provisions of the law that makes gaming or wagering contracts unenforceable. In my view, there is as much need to-day as there ever was to protect rash and inexperienced backers and those with whom gambling has become a passion from ruining themselves and, what is worse, from bringing ruin and misery upon their families. And I think it is a sound principle of public policy that layers, too, should be discouraged from taking unwarrantable risks. It will be within the knowledge of every Deputy in this House that, in certain circumstances and under certain conditions, the temptation to bet beyond one's means, is hard to resist. Indeed, the backer who plunges on the last race to recover his loses is a familiar figure to us all. If the present law is changed, nothing is more certain than that weak-minded persons, with gambling propensities, will become the prey of sharks and will be subjected to such inducements to bet beyond their means on credit, maybe after they have been plied with drink, that they will not be able to resist the temptation to do so.

I do not, of course, suggest that reputable bookmakers would countenance such malpractices still less that they would be guilty of them. Nor do I suggest that the immediate victims would be deserving of any greater measure of sympathy than ordinary humanity requires us to extend to those who are the slaves of a predominant passion. But I do ask you to have compassion on their families and to consider the husbands and wives of these people and their innocent children, on whom so much misery could be brought in this way. I know it could be argued that wagering contracts should be put on the same footing as other contracts but this, in my opinion, is to take a doctrinaire view of the case, without allowing for the circumstances which give these contracts their special character and provide the justification for the existing provision of the law. In this connection, I may remind you that the sale of liquor on credit, for consumption on the premises, has had to be prohibited for a somewhat similar reason and it is noteworthy that, even before there was an absolute prohibition on credit sales, the amounts due on foot of some such sales were declared by law to be irrecoverable. I would also draw the attention of Deputies to the fact that the joint committee on the Betting Act, 1926, and the law relating to the business of bookmaking reported against changing the law which makes betting debts irrecoverable. And as a family man appealing to other family men I ask you to leave the law as it is.

I have now concluded such observations as occur to me and it remains only to say that we are submitting this Bill as an honest attempt to create order out of the existing statutory chaos. We are only too conscious of the difficulty in legally defining gaming and distinguishing in practice between acts which violate the law and those that may be questionable but not illegal. We have done our best to overcome these difficulties having been assisted in our task, as I am glad to acknowledge, by the consideration which was given to this question by my predecessor when he was in office, and I hope that the House will see its way to approve our proposals.

This Bill is certainly overdue. It is about two years since the then Government had a draft before them almost identical with this. I have to admit that speaking for myself I am a bit of a pussyfoot in these matters and the one thing I am afraid of in regard to legalising these things is that you will have the same results as we had by the legalising of betting. A lot of people think it was a good thing to legalise betting and from one point of view it may have been, inasmuch as people would be breaking the law by betting off the course. However, my personal view is that there are about 20 people betting now for the one there was before legalisation. What I am afraid of is that in legalising gambling under this Bill there will be a similar increase in all these opportunities of getting rid of money easily.

The Bill is overdue and it is practically the same Bill as was drafted a couple of years ago. Perhaps the reason I held back is that although I have these personal views, I did not want anyone to think that because I felt these things ought not to be the Bill was being brought in. In any event I am satisfied and I think it is the general view among Deputies that it is time to do something about gambling. For instance, these slot-machines were going too far. They were leading poor families to ruin by the way they were being operated even in shops where food was being sold. Then we have the pools. There was one successful pool started outside this part of the country. It got on so well that others started to follow suit and I think—my recollection may be wrong—within a year there were at least 40 competing with one another.

All the people engaged in these pools were not by any means the desirable type. Some of them had very desirable objects, hospitals, churches, and the rest, but, on the other hand, some of them were being run by people whose antecedents were not of the very best. The whole thing reached such a position that if the Government had not taken steps to halt it, it would have been a very bad situation altogether. Therefore, we agreed to do something which we had not legal authority to do. We agreed to tolerate up to £300, prior to the 25 per cent. expenses for promotion, pending the passage of this Bill.

I do not intend to go into the provisions of the Bill in detail now as it is practically the same Bill as I had. I dare say that the speech made by the Minister is somewhat on the lines of the speech I might have made. However, there are some sections here which I should like to refer to and which I may or may not have agreed to. Section 7 concerns gaming at carnivals. It is hard that only one week is allowed for travelling show people while one month is allowed for people promoting bazaars, and so forth.

Section 32 deals with the prohibition on sending money or documents out of the State. In my view, that section is not enforceable. It is very bad for any Parliament to pass laws that cannot be enforced. We have some of them already. We have the licensing laws. Everybody knows that they are not in force because public opinion is not in favour of some of the restrictions. I think we ought not deliberately pass a section such as Section 32 of this Bill, which reads as follows:—

"No person shall send or attempt to send out of the State any ticket, counterfoil or coupon for use in a lottery or any money for the purchase of, or any money representing the purchase price of, a ticket or chance in a lottery or a prize won in a lottery, or any document relating to the purchase or sale of, or indicating the identity of the holder of, any such ticket or chance or the winner of any such prize."

As I have said, I think that is not enforceable. I may be wrong but if I am right then I say we ought not enact legislation that cannot be enforced. One of the worst things in any State is to have laws in operation that cannot be enforced. We ought to be careful before passing any legislation of that type.

I fear the Minister will have a tough time before he gets this Bill through. Already, we have had plenty of representations. I think the limit of £300 for lotteries is quite all right, as also the £25. He made his case for that and it was a case that convinced me too. £300 is enough. I do not know what will happen if pools promoters outside the State continue as they have been doing. When I was Minister for Justice I found that everybody running a pool—it was based on the Twenty-Six Counties—complied with the Order to cease operations for the unlimited prizes. Then there was the pool from the Six Counties. I agreed that the objects for which the pool was run were laudable—as, indeed, were the objects in relation to which the other pools also were run.

I could not tell the House of all the abuse I got from some of our own people here because I compelled them to cease operating and apparently winked at the other thing. Some action was taken in the courts, with what result I do not know. However, the position was anomalous when one body was allowed to carry on with an unlimited prize fund and the others were not. It would cause all sorts of discontent. There will be remedies under this Bill but I say to the House that we should not pass any provision in the Bill that we cannot enforce.

I welcome this Bill except for the reservations which I have made. I hope my fear will not be justified that, as a result of the legalising of gaming, we shall have an extension of all the games of chance, lotteries, and so forth, comparable to the scandalous increase in the number of betting shops all over the country. I sincerely hope that will not happen.

I think there is general acceptance of the need for a Bill such as this. So long as men and women live and whether it is legalised or not, gambling in one form or another will continue. I think it is desirable that it should be regulated in some way. If that is not done then you allow the present undesirable position to remain —a position whereby decisions as to what type of gambling should go or what form should be permitted depend on the views of different superintendents and on the decisions of different district justices. That has been the position in the past. While I think the Minister has advisedly taken steps under this Bill to control gambling he should be careful not to make the law so strict or so unworkable as to drive underground, if I might use that expression, the people who promote gambles. If the Bill does not get the goodwill of the people who promote lotteries and games then there is the grave danger that illegality will flourish, together with fraud and corruption. It is desirable to have this Bill as wide as possible and acceptable to the promoters of gaming, at the same time ensuring that the ordinary members of the public who engage in minor forms of gambling get the pleasures they desire to have and which, in my opinion, they are perfectly entitled to enjoy.

I can see no justification for what the Minister says about keeping the bookmakers apart from ordinary promoters of gaming houses. They are in the business for the sake of the profit they can make out of it, and more luck to them. After all, that is all that almost everybody in the world is out for. Those of us who are honest will have to admit that that is true. Whether or not they help the horse-racing or the greyhound industry I do not know but in my view they are not particularly interested in that side of things. If there was no gaming on horse-racing or on dogs it is questionable whether the greyhound or the horse-racing industry would suffer at all.

The fact is that we have betting and it is desirable to ensure, as I notice the Minister stated, that frauds are stopped. If it is desirable to have control and to stop frauds then I think everyone will welcome this Bill and agree with the Minister in that regard. The system of licensing gaming houses and of keeping a check on the promoters of lotteries is desirable but the question of who should and who should not have a licence is another matter.

There are some undesirable points in the Bill. One of the things to which I have the very strongest objection—and I speak primarily because of the fact that I am thinking of the people employed in the gaming business and in lotteries, as agents—is the limit in regard to the six months' period, implying that only the seaside resorts are entitled to this higher form of gambling. Would anybody suggest that it is wrong that an old lady, who is not able to go to a racecourse or to go to an ordinary bookmaker's office to put 10/- or £1 on a horse or dog, should go into a pongo saloon of a winter's evening, if she does not care to go to the pictures, and lay 3d. a time for about two hours with the possible loss of about 3/-, that is, provided she loses all the time? That would cost her roughly the same as the cinema. She cannot go through the hurly burly of breaking through a cinema queue on Sunday night, and cannot afford to pay the black market 6/-.

Is there anything wrong in her going in and playing the numbers? I do not see any crime in it, and I do not see how the Minister or anybody else can suggest it. I do not see how it legalises or makes the position any better if all the money goes to charity. If a woman goes in and spends on gaming all the money that should go to buy food for the family, and if the money all goes to charity, I do not see that it lessens her crime. It is difficult to understand that if the money goes to charity rather than into somebody's private pocket it makes it any better. I do not accept that.

I suggest that the Minister should take the broad view. Let us legalise gaming up to a point. Let us limit the stakes. Let us make sure that only reputable, decent people are permitted to operate it. Let us make sure that there will be no fraud or trickery. Then we can go the whole way with him. I disagree with giving certain sections special rights and saying that the man in the seaside resorts who is operating on a big scale or the man in a big town is entitled to concessions that other people are not entitled to. I disagree completely with class legislation and sectional interests. The people of all sections have the same rights as long as they are good citizens. I would suggest that the Minister should examine the Bill from that point of view, of having gaming for all the people or not at all. Personally, I suggest that it should be licensed.

In my opinion it is not right that the local authority should decide as to whether or not there should be gaming in their areas. I am a member of a number of local authorities and I am aware of the influence that can be brought by sectional interests and the pressure that can be exercised. There is no person more subject to that than the ordinary public representative. I suggest that it would be far better that the Garda authorities should deal with it. If a permit is to be given, let it be given by the Garda authority, say, the superintendent or somebody in the district. I do not think the local authority should have that right. I feel that if it were the local authority, we would be defeating ourselves. In the case of the issue of licences to bookmakers it is the district justice who decides the matter. There should be a similar provision in this case. I am aware that, the local authority having given sanction, the matter has to go to the court. I am quite satisfied with that. The court is a competent body and will not be subject to pressure. I suggest that the local authority is the very last body that should be put under the strain of having to administer the Bill or that should be given the responsibility.

There is a time element referred to by Deputy Boland, the question of the travelling show and the 28 days' notice that is to be given to local authorities. These are matters that will be rectified on Committee and that should be rectified. It is ridiculous to limit the time so strictly to a period of a week in the case of a travelling show or circus. When a travelling show or circus finds things are good in an area, that the money is flowing and people are enjoying the show they provide, it is only reasonable that they should be permitted to stay there for a much longer period than a week. It would scarcely be worth while in some cases to pull up for a week. These travelling shows have an amount of paraphernalia and it would not be worth while unpacking to stay for only a week, especially having regard to the fact that a showman's week is not a matter of seven days but commences on Friday and ends on Sunday. Certainly in the small country towns, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday could be given as a present to anybody for all the showman takes in. The Minister would be well advised to accept amendments on the lines I have suggested.

In Section 16 (e) it is specified that the types of games to be played should be listed. It is difficult for showmen to know what games they will play in a particular area. The type of game would be dictated by the type of game liked in the locality. Very often showmen have to improvise to meet the demand in a locality. It is rather strict to ask him to decide beforehand on the games to be played.

I would particularly object to the attempt made in this Bill to do away with the private person who promotes lotteries or games. These are the people who give the employment. I know there are over 5,000 people directly employed in the rural areas and several thousand in other areas. These people are making a living. A personal friend of mine has been disemployed due to the restrictions imposed in the past three or four months. He has a family to maintain. Due to certain circumstances, he is not in a position to engage in manual work. What is he to do? Emigrate? Must he fly out of the land because we decide suddenly to be pussyfoot? I do not think it is a good thing to do that. He is only one of a number. There are thousands like him, people who have engaged in this business which is carried on in every country in the world.

It is deplorable that this should be confined to so-called charities because a good deal of the charity money does not reach the charitable purpose, as we know, and where all these voluntary helpers are coming in, it is only the private gaming concern that really does anything at all.

I would make a plea to the Minister to remember the thousands of people engaged in this business. As he finished his speech by appealing for the families who suffer as a result of gaming I would say let us think of the families of those who gain through gaming. The Minister should consider the wives and children of those employees who have been put out of work and who, if the Bill as drafted is enacted, will certainly be put out of work for the future. I would also suggest that if the Bill is delayed and does not go through for a long time he should declare some kind of amnesty until such time as the Bill is decided by the votes of the House.

I would like to welcome the Bill, which has been already welcomed, as bringing into some reality and truth the situation with regard to gaming. There are one or two aspects of the Bill to which I wish to refer. The first one is in connection with the running of lotteries. I appreciate what the Minister said, that the entire intention of the Bill is to try to confine the charitable lottery to a real charitable lottery, run by enthusiastic people, as far as possible on a voluntary basis and to keep out of the running of such lotteries the professional element. At the same time I would suggest to the Minister and to the House that possibly the very figures, that is to say, the £300 and the 25 per cent. expenses, may not have that effect. It is fair to say that in this country—unaffected in any way by this legislation—there is in various periodicals and newspapers a form of competition in crossword puzzles which, to a very large proportion of the population, in fact, one would be tempted to say to everyone over the age of seven years, is very nearly a lottery. No real skill is required.

It is as good as pongo any day.

That is right. The crossword puzzles are in operation and they require no skill. You pay your sixpence and I think you are taking your chance. That is a gaming operation. I am not saying that it should be legislated against, but I am considering it in comparison with the restrictions on charitable and philanthropic lotteries. I would consider these crossword competitions as being in competition with those charitable lotteries. The expense of running these puzzles are unlimited. The case has been made by one pools organisation operating in Dublin and the country generally for a very good purpose and which has been working within the limits imposed by the Government—the case has been made by the organisers of that pool that it is difficult to operate on a 25 per cent. expense margin. I appreciate that the effort to keep expenses down is one of the provisions in the Bill.

I appreciate that through it the Minister hopes to prevent the element of professionalism entering into these things. The expenses of running them are high because you have people who are slow to pay and you must have collectors going around with books. There are other overheads such as printing and advertising. A society of this kind which has been working for the past two years and which has had a good lot of voluntary effort says it cannot operate on a 25 per cent. expenses margin. I doubt if raising the level from 25 per cent. to 30 per cent. or even 40 per cent. would really permit a professional pool to operate behind a charitable front. Possibly consideration of increasing the £300 limit would put these charitable lotteries in a better position to compete with the newspaper competitions and with some of the lotteries which have been permitted to come in from outside.

The limit of £300 is reasonable to a certain extent but the Minister might consider increasing the limit and adding a restriction about the number of entries. He could impose a limit of one entry. If only one entry of 6d. were allowed to each subscriber I think the organisers should be entitled to increase the prize money. I suggest that the Minister would consider this aspect of the question between this and Committee Stage.

One other matter to which I should like to refer concerns Section 41 of the Bill. I may be misreading that section and I may not be recollecting properly the criminal law but it does seem to me that the obstruction of a member of the Garda Síochána in the execution of his duty would be an offence under this as it is under other Acts. It would be very useful and desirable that a particular penalty or sanction would be imposed for committing the offence under this Act; in other words, the Guards must be strengthened to search premises where they suspect gaming is taking place and I would be in favour of any penalties or sanctions imposed, but a presumption as to the commission of an offence is an entirely separate offence. Of course, I may not be reading the section properly, but I think that the section provides that the Guard would start off with the presumption of guilt on the part of the owner of the premises to be searched. I do not in any way suggest that there should be any limit put on the powers of the Guards in this matter, but I should like that the Minister would consider how a principle creating a new and separate offence merely by impeding or obstructing the Guards, which is a separate offence in itself, is desirable.

I welcome the introduction of this Bill. I have indeed for quite a long time been pestering the Minister's Department and trying to get the Minister's predecessor to see eye to eye with me in this matter of getting amended this rather antiquated law which has been in force in this country in connection with games such as pongo and roulette as played at country carnivals. I welcome Deputy Kyne's views here, but what I am mainly concerned with is that before we finish we produce a reasonable and practical measure.

To start off with, I think we should be able to deal with this matter with a fresh outlook because in fact I am convinced and always have been convinced that the Gaming Act of 1854 should not be applied to this country. There is no decision of the Supreme Court of this country on that matter but it is rather obvious that the preamble to the 1854 Act refers to the gaming houses in the City of London. Yet, it was under the Gaming Act of 1854 that all these prosecutions have been taken during the past number of years.

Clearly, that legislation was not intended to deal with the type of poor widow and her husband about whom the Minister has been talking. It was intended to protect the elder sons and the younger sons of the manor and the bucks of the London gaming houses. It was significant that the Act passed in 1780 was an Act dealing with a man named Wilson and applied only to the Isle of Mauritius. The Act following that was aimed at giving relief in income-tax of 1/2 in the £ to the British taxpayer. I hope the Minister for Finance will consider that before he introduces his Budget.

In relation to the statutes passed in that particular year there was an index included. That index was printed by Messrs. Eyre and Spottiswode, the official printers to the British Parliament at the time. That index purported to show to which country each of these Acts applied. After England appeared the letter E; after the United Kingdom, the letters U.K.; after Scotland the letter S appeared, and so on. In relation to this particular Act passed in 1854 the letter E appeared in the printed index. Therefore the Act referred only to England. But this is the Act under which unfortunate showmen have been pilloried and pestered here by the powers-that-be since we started on our own. I am not blaming the Minister or the authorities, but the fact remains that we have been operating a law passed for a different country to deal with different circumstances, a law which has no relation and no application to local circumstances here.

When we come to deal with local circumstances, let us put our own views on the Statute Book. Let us deal with local conditions as we know them and forget about what the position is elsewhere. Speaking of elsewhere, we can start in this matter with the extraordinary knowledge that we have legalised one of the biggest State lotteries in the world. We have, too, an extraordinary number of licensed bookmakers all over the country. That being so, I fail to see why we should shed all these tears now and start chanting ade profundis because someone puts 1d. on roulette or invests 3d. in a game of pongo. National weaknesses of character are not confined to the poor fellow who puts his 1d. on the games played at carnivals or invests in a game of pongo, la boule or roulette on a wet night at the seaside.

I have always thought that an awful lot of nonsense is talked about the number of people who go in openly to the bookmaker's office and mortgage their farms in order to put £500 on the nose of a stumer of a horse that was never out before. We are still being pilloried and described under the Gaming Act of 1854 as rogues and vagabonds if we put a penny on roulette or la boule, or get our cards for pongo or netball, or anything else. Let us be realists and let us get down to putting on the Statute Book a workable measure which will have the cooperation of the public and the confidence of the people who operate it.

In the main, the principles of the Bill are all right. I suggest to the Minister that on the Committee Stage the House should seek to make this Bill workable. A period of one month is mentioned in Section 6. One month is also mentioned in Section 7. Has the Minister considered the position of a circus or a carnival travelling around the country? Has he considered the time it takes these people to get from one place to another. I do not think that factor has been adverted to by either the Minister or his advisers. In sub-section (b) of Section 6 it is stated:—

"... the show at or within three miles of that place does not extend over a period exceeding one week and has not been carried on within that area during the preceding three months."

There is no definition of area in the definition section. What does it mean? Does it mean the whole county. Are the miles square miles or linear miles? The Minister should examine that point. It seems to me that as it stands at present a showman might find himself confined to operating in one particular spot in one particular county. Area will have to be defined.

From time immemorial it has been the practice for some of these showmen to devote the proceedings of one week to one charity and another week to another charity and have only one week for themselves. I take it I can mention a particular firm since it was mentioned by James Joyce inUlysses. I refer to the firm of Tofts. They come to Galway every year and the proceeds of one week are devoted to the St. Vincent de Paul; another week is devoted to another local charity. They operate for two weeks for charity before they operate for themselves. Under this section that position can no longer obtain if it is passed as it stands. The Minister will appreciate that in Galway a lease has to be obtained from the corporation and a substantial rent has to be paid. Section 6 as it stands is unworkable and the period should be at least one month.

Section 7 deals with the people to whom Deputy Kyne referred. They are the people who make no profit. A local dramatic society would come under Section 7. Suppose that society puts on a show in town A and then proceeds to town B 25 miles away and puts on another show: they have to pay for their transport; being human, I assume they must have a meal. Will they be liable to prosecution under Section 7 if it is passed as it stands? If they pay for transport and food out of the proceeds that can be interpreted as a personal profit. The Minister might consider that proposition.

Under Section 9 the Minister outlaws what is known as the one armed band; that is the slot-machine. I do not see why we should be so terrified of a penny-in-the-slot machine. I have seen them operating on premises within five yards of Piccadilly Circus. I do not see what extraordinary inroads such a machine could make on the family inheritance of someone sticking his pennies into these machines. Furthermore, granted there is any man who will put his family and his property in pawn through the medium of the penny-in-the-slot machine, if there is not someone he will meet on his way who will take as much from him I am no judge of human nature. If such a man spends his patrimony on these machines he should not be let out—certainly not without his mother.

Consider the position in the small seaside resorts. Sometimes, for instance, on the Island of Achill one cannot go out to fish or to enjoy oneself on the beach because it is raining. These penny-in-the-slot machines would give the people in these places something to do. The only other amenity is the local pub. The Minister is not a drinking man and his conflict will be between taking away these machines and driving people into the pubs. If he does not permit the machines he will be helping the local publican. I see nothing wrong in permitting these machines in conjunction with the other amusements one expects to find.

The main objection to this measure arises in relation to Part III in connection with the local authority. I suggest to the Minister that that part of the Bill will be unworkable from the point of view of those who will have to operate it. The Minister provides that the local authority must adopt this resolution. To start off with, you will not have uniformity on that; you will have those that will and those that will not adopt it. It is not the people who will not adopt it who will suffer; the people who will suffer will be the people who are interested, say, in promoting the local carnival. It is provided that a resolution shall not have effect unless not less than one month's notice of intention to propose it has been given in writing to every member of the local authority and has been published by advertisement in at least two newspapers circulating in the area to which the proposal relates.

Let us imagine this performance. We have to summon—I am putting the extreme case to the Minister—the local authority from the extreme corners of a scattered county like Mayo and provide the cost of transport and that cost in the case of Mayo is about £70 per meeting for transport alone. Then we solemnly sit down, this proposal having been advertised in two local papers circulating in the county. The advertising has to take place first and then the local authority has to be summoned to sit in solemn conclave on this question. Then they have to pass a resolution and they "shall cause notice of the fact to be published in at least two newspapers circulating in the area to which the resolution relates."

So far as I can see the newspapers will do very well under this section because they will be doing nothing but publishing notices, first that the local authority is being called together to deal with the resolution and when the local authority has dealt with it, a further notice stating that they have dealt with it, and this may be given as evidence of the passing of a resolution. Having done all that, the poor showman has still to come to the District Court, if my interpretation of Section 14 is correct. He has to come back and put in a further advertisement and serve it on the Garda superintendent. Incidentally, there is a period laid down for the intending applicant. It is provided that he shall give 28 days' notice in writing of his intention to each local authority and to the Garda Síochána, and you have a further advertisement that he has got to publish.

All this I suggest to the Minister can be completely wiped out if the Minister will adopt the simple procedure laid down in the Public Dance Halls Act of 1935 dealing with this matter. I want the Minister to appreciate this — that the local authority can come in under the public health regulations anyhow. Under the Dance Halls Act of 1935 any person can come in and oppose any application. The local authority has come in in cases where the public health is concerned in regard to the number of persons permitted or insufficient fire-fighting appliances. They come in under the health regulations. In the same way it would be open to them if there was any special danger from the public health point of view to come in under this Act. They could come in but there is no reason I could see under the sun for writing this into the statute to make them a party to any of these applications. I shall deal with it in a more detailed manner on the Committee Stage but I suggest a procedure such as under the Public Dance Halls Act, under which persons may apply for a limited licence for a defined period not exceeding a month in respect of, say, dances to be held — a certain number within the month —or can go to the annual licensing session and get a licence for a year.

But he must be approved by the local authority first.

I suggest to the Minister that he must not. He applies to the courts for this licence, the annual licence in respect of a particular building which he wishes to run as a dance hall. He serves notice on the Garda superintendent and comes into court and any member of the public can come and oppose his application, but he is mainly concerned with the Garda superintendent. That is for an annual licence, but he can give 48 hours' notice and apply to the District Court for a licence for a defined period not exceeding one month, and having served that on the superintendent he can get a licence for specific occasions or for a number of occasions within a confined period not exceeding one month. He can do that without any advertisement and if the local superintendent and the court is satisfied he gets his licence. That is the simple procedure and I strongly suggest to the Minister that he would consider these provisions and do away with this cumbersome and complicated and—even though this may affect myself, I say—very expensive procedure provided under this particular section.

I do not quite understand what the object of Section 18 is because Section 18 suggests to me, unless I have misread it, that when a showman finishes with a county council or local authority, finishes with all advertisements and with the court and with the further advertisement, that he still has to come to the customs people. How this is going to be worked or what form of duty is going to be put on under Section 18 I do not know. The section, as it reads, brings my mind back to the question of getting a liquor licence where the court grants a certificate and you then have to come to the customs people. What the purpose of the section is I do not know. I would feel far happier if the Minister said in plain words that the stamp duty on annual licences will be £2 and that the stamp duty on a licence for a defined period not exceeding one month will be 10/-. We would all know where we were then. I do not know the meaning of Section 18. Perhaps that is a shot the Minister is keeping in his locker. I would be very interested to hear what he intends to do or what the Revenue Commissioners will do under this section.

I must say I am not greatly concerned with the lotteries portion of this Bill except again to make the thing workable if we are going to put a realistic measure on the Statute Book. I know that the Hospitals' Trust having got in first, and having now got a vested interest, must have its rights protected, but as somebody —I think it was Deputy Boland —mentioned I cannot see how this thing will work, because I can give the Minister instances of things that happen day in, day out in country towns. We had recently, for instance, in my part of the country a world trout fly-fishing competition. There was a small sweep run on the winners of the competition and cards were sent to some former members of our club, one of whom is a distinguished clergyman in California. We got some dollars from him and from his friends. Similarly, with old fishing men and their relatives in England and in other parts of the world, to whom cards were sent. I do not think many of these clubs could carry on without the little help they get from people like that in places such as America and England.

I am sure the local parish priest will realise the effect of this section. In the case of many churches in this country, if the walls were not built out of sweeps that drew the money from England and America certainly many of the roofs were put on by subscriptions coming from these countries. I do not really think that Section 23 is workable and certainly if it passes this House I think there will be many prosecutions under that section if the Minister is able to find them out. Sections 31 and 32 were also referred to and I do not think they are enforceable. Again, I think that if the Minister relies on the local superintendent of the Garda Síochána to give notice in connection with these matters, that will be sufficient. He is the man who knows the local people and local conditions. He will see that no chancer will avail himself of opportunities such as the Minister might be afraid of.

I would also like to say I agree with Deputy Finlay who, I think, referred to Section 41. As the Minister is aware, it is already an offence to obstruct a Guard in the execution of his duty. If a Guard is obstructed in the execution of his duty under this Bill it is just as much an offence as if he were obstructed in connection with any other part of his duties. Therefore, Section 41 is superfluous and I would not like to see it going through in its present form. Section 42 amuses me:—

"It shall not be necessary in support of a prosecution in relation to unlawful gaming to prove that any person found playing at any game was playing for any money, wages or stake."

I would like to see how the prosecutor would get a conviction if he could not prove that there were some wages or stake or how he was going to prove it was gaming, unlawful or otherwise. I would like to know also if these two sections go through whether, if I was having a game of 1d. "25" in my house with two or three friends, a Guard could not hammer on the door, charge in and drag me in for unlawful gaming. However, I do not propose to let the Minister put these two sections through on the Committee Stage of this Bill.

I again appeal to the Minister to approach this matter with an open mind. We are starting a new chapter dealing with this very annoying type of law that we adopted from another country. As the Minister well knows, there is nothing which tends more to bring the law as a whole into disrespect than to have something which everybody in the country regards as "cod". You had some district justices throwing out some of the cases, fining one penny, and others fining £100 for each charge. I am glad that chapter is closed, and if the Minister keeps an open mind I am satisfied this House in the main will take a sensible view of this Bill and will put on the Statute Book a workable measure. I hope the Minister will not take a rigid view of this matter, that he will keep an open mind until we finish the Committee Stage and, particularly, that he will accept amendments to ensure that it will not be impossible for these men to carry on in view of the cumbersome procedure that is entailed in Part III of this Bill.

I want to be as brief as I can and to say that I agree on the whole with the comments that have been made by the Deputies who have spoken. In particular, I would like to compliment Deputy Moran on the remarks he made because I think they do represent the position fairly well.

It seems to me that, by and large, this Bill is neither fish nor flesh. The position will remain as chaotic after the Bill is passed as it is at the moment, and the situation is chaotic on this question of gambling and gaming. We forbid pools completely; yet you can go down to the G.P.O. on certain nights of the week and you can hardly get near a counter with people buying postal orders to compete in football pools in England. We forbid gambling in certain forms, pongo and pools of one kind or another; yet our two main Sunday newspapers carry out an extensive game of pongo every Sunday in which the whole country can compete and in which the papers can make as much profit as they like and in which as many entries can be made as anybody has money to buy copies of the paper.

We do not allow a 3d. or 6d. game of pongo but a man can go and bet £1,000 on any old horse or dog he feels like betting on. We have the Sweep, which is probably the biggest form of gaming or gambling almost in the world. In addition to that, our President and all the high functionaries of State will attend race meetings right through the country and participate in gambling. But lo and behold if anybody dares to bring a law case against somebody who bets and does not pay his money, he is told in court immediately: "The Gaming Act; gaming is illegal and therefore you cannot sue for a gaming debt."

I am merely mentioning these incidents to show how completely chaotic and illogical the present position is. I had hoped that this Bill might have attempted to place it on a more reasoned and logical basis. I can fully appreciate the difficulties that the Minister has to meet and I think I can appreciate fully why the Minister's predecessor had this Bill tucked away in the drawer of his desk for two years without bringing it out into the light of day. I am really in some difficulty to know what could be suggested to deal with the position. I see on the whole that this is probably the kind of measure that should really be examined by a small committee or by a commission of experts to try to get some kind of comprehensive code to deal with the position.

The Minister says that the Bill is not intended to condemn gaming as such but that it is intended only to regulate things. I think probably there is considerably more involved than regulating gaming and I do not know whether the basis upon which it is sought to regulate it is really a sound basis. However, I am sure the Minister will take into account the various comments that have been made on the Second Reading and will try to meet the House to the best of his ability on it.

I am concerned here to-night to make one or two points in regard to showmen, the ordinary small showmen travelling the country who in themselves form part of our social life, if you like, in rural parts of the country. They are part of the local attraction in every small village and town throughout the country. I think we should not penalise them because, by and large, I have never heard any serious complaints about them. They are regarded as businessmen and you very seldom hear any complaints against them. I think that certain provisions of this Bill will put them out of business—the provision, for instance, whereby they have to obtain a licence from a county council. Are we not likely to have a completely anomalous position where one county will decide to grant a licence and where maybe in three or four adjoining counties they will say: "No. We do not like gaming."?

As Deputies know, these travelling shows work on a circuit basis. The economy of the show depends on being able to work every day during the season and to have to travel as short a distance as possible. Take an extreme case. Supposing the Counties of Sligo, Roscommon and some of the north-western counties say: "No. We will not have it," and that Donegal says: "Yes, we will." It means that the show would have to travel maybe 150 miles before it could reach a place where it could set up camp and that would destroy the possibility of making the show pay. As well as that, the provisions in the Bill which limit the stay of a show to a week are fairly unworkable for the reason which has already been very ably stated by some other Deputies.

I do not want to go into any details on the Second Reading, but I should like to appeal to the Minister to meet representatives of the Irish Showmen's Guild which is a representative organisation of the small showman throughout the country. I could not help thinking when the Minister in the course of his speech, in pointing out that gaming on horses and dogs was a help to support the horse and dog breeding industry, that there are at least 5,000 travelling showmen in the country, all small people, and that this Bill may well jeopardise their future livelihood. We should have some consideration for their viewpoint before embarking on this piece of legislation. Therefore, I would very strongly appeal to the Minister to meet representatives of the Irish Showmen's Guild and to have considered in detail the various suggestions they have to make in regard to the provisions of the Bill which deal with their particular problem.

I think the question of slot-machines is probably one of the main reasons for the general agitation there has been for a Bill of this kind. I think many of us have felt for a long time that slot-machines were being used in an unlimited way by children and were becoming a serious evil. The children developed very nearly an addiction to putting pennies in slot-machines and it caused a lot of damage to them. I would have thought it might have been possible to deal with the matter merely by making it illegal for children —say, boys and girls under 16 years— to use slot-machines or to prevent any amusement caterer from allowing children under 16 years to use them. Always provided the slot-machines are limited to a penny at the seaside or even in towns—at stations, and so on —I think they would be pretty harmless but I do not know as I am not an expert on these things. I wonder whether the House knows really very much about it and whether it would not be better if a matter of this kind were considered by a body of experts. I do not know where you could get the experts on this matter but I imagine a few people could be picked who would have a pretty good knowledge of conditions.

There are a lot of expert showmen in this House.

There are—but that is one of the reasons for a little more tolerance for the livelihood of the showman. After all, we belong, to a degree, to the same kind of profession and we should not try to put our colleagues out of business. At least we ought to hear what they have to say. I am sure the Minister will make every endeavour to hear their viewpoint, at least.

I do not agree with this Bill. My idea is that if a man, woman or child wants to gamble they should be allowed to gamble; we should not prevent them and, if we try to, they will. Then we are merely dragging it underground. I prefer to see these little gambles at the seaside and in buildings here and there in Dublin and throughout the country going on as they are going on. I think the reason why this Bill is being brought before this House is on account of pongo and slot-machines. Several Deputies mentioned horses and dogs and the attitude was that we can go and bet whatever we like on them but that we want all these restrictions on pongo and slot-machines.

It has been stated that the horse-breeding industry is a great industry and that the breeding of greyhounds is a great industry. I am a keen race-goer. I had some good greyhounds in my time and I hope to have some good ones again. However, I have never got the same enjoyment out of racing or out of the dogs as I got when I was a boy and went out through the fields to see the showman arriving and then went to his show that night and gambled at his roulette table, and so forth. So much has been said about pongo and slot-machines in this country as to put the showman under a cloud. The majority of showmen in the business at the present time belong to families that have been in the business for generations. If they were the cheats that some people think they are, or that this Bill would make them out to be, they would not have lasted in the business for more than a couple of years. I have here a communication which I received only to-day from the showmen and on it I see names that have become household words in this country. I see the names of decent, good-living, reputable people and generations of our people have dealt with them. They brighten the lives of the people of the country.

I should not like to see any restriction on pongo. The playing of pongo is a social event in the country districts. People like to come to town and play pongo for 1d., 2d. or 3d. a turn. There is no need for anybody in this House to put a restriction on it when the people's pockets impose the restriction for them. I might say here that the most beautiful church in the diocese I come from was built out of receipts from carnivals—and we hope to build more.

Debate adjourned.