I should now like to refer the Minister to Part IV of the Bill. Section 22 deals with private lotteries and it states:—
"A lottery shall not be unlawful if
(a) the sale of chances is confined to
(i) the members of one society established and conducted for purposes not connected with gaming, wagering or lotteries, ..."
That could mean that a very large trade union, with thousands of members, could engage in a very large lottery. Obviously, the Minister's purpose in introducing this section was to confine a lottery to a small group such as a football group or a local dramatic society, but, as the section stands, an organisation with thousands of members could run such a lottery.
Sub-paragraph (b) of Section 22 provides:—
"A lottery shall not be unlawful if the tickets and counterfoils are individually identifiable only by a number or like distinguishing mark and bear no indication that they relate to a lottery,..."
What is this great fear of lotteries? To-day, many Deputies left this House to hear the result of the Derby: they left to hear Phil Drake win—much to their chagrin. A lot of money was wagered on the result of the Derby to-day—a lot more money, I submit, than would be wagered on many a night at Pongo, and the Minister knows that in his heart.
While I am on the subject of lottery tickets, there is one point I should like to refer to the Minister. There is a group of individuals going around this country hawking tickets. We all meet them. They knock on the door at night. They will stop you on the street and you will buy a ticket for 3d., 6d., or 1/-, as the case may be. There is a definite abuse because, in quite a considerable number of cases, the money collected goes into the pocket of the person selling the ticket and does not reach the promoters of the raffle.
The Minister may ask me what suggestions I have to make in that respect. I suggest that the promoters of a football club, or other such body, be allowed to run a raffle or a lottery on condition that, like the Hospitals' Trust, receipts are given to the purchasers, or some such safeguard to the general public. I know it would be a costly thing to have to issue a receipt for a 3d. or 6d. ticket but if these raffles are localised, as most of them are, and if they have an energetic local committee, then it will not kill them to get some youngsters in that local football club to deliver the receipts by hand. At local elections we have to deliver our election literature to 37,000 or 40,000 persons by hand.
I would impress on the Minister that there is a racket in this country and that the public will have to be protected. Every Deputy in the House is aware of the truth of what I say. If a man buys a raffle ticket for 6d. or 1/- and puts it into his pocket it is the last he hears about it and it is the last the promoters of the ticket see of it, in many cases.
If we are to be realistic about this Bill and if we are to have Deputies on all sides of the House saying that it was time it was brought in let us get down to brass tacks and introduce something that will be effective and fair to all sections. As the Bill stands we are not doing that and that is my reason for being so critical of the measure. While speaking of gambling generally I should like to point out that last year on the racecourses of this country there was £5,750,000 wagered. That, of course, was on the courses alone. In the bookmakers' offices £6,000,000 was wagered, making a total of £11,750,000 wagered last year in this country on courses and in bookmakers' offices. That does not include the money laid in dog tracks, because there is no levy in that connection.
I am not advocating that there should be a tax on greyhound betting, but I am pointing out in a comparative way that the Minister is taking too seriously this matter of controlling the maximum amount of prize money involved in lotteries.
I should like to draw the attention of the House also to the statement of the Racing Board issued last year, because I think it is one of the most important statements that could be introduced into this debate. It shows that the people who bet or invest are not careless or frivolous spendthrifts. The ninth annual report of the Racing Board says that racegoers in general are not concerned with gambling and that is evidenced by the fact that 80 per cent of the totalisator tickets purchased were in 2/- and 4/- units. That, in my opinion, should be borne in mind by the Minister. The amount of money placed on the totalisator last year in this country was £1,936,000 and now the Minister is turning around and mentioning a figure of £300 as the limit for first prize in one of these lotteries.
I expect every Deputy in this House has got the memorandum issued by Gael-Linn and other organisations and it is quite obvious that the prize money of £300, which is the maximum limit allowed, should be increased. I cannot see why the Minister will not allow a maximum prize or prizes in weekly raffles to a limit of £1,000. I cannot see any reason in the world why.
The Bill makes provision for the percentage allowed for expenses. Does that mean that subscribers are limited? Section 25 says that:—
"A superintendent of the Garda Síochána, on the application of any person residing in his district, may issue a permit for the promotion of a lottery in accordance with this section."
Sub-section (2) of the same section says that:—
"The lottery shall comply with the following conditions:—
(a) the permit-holder shall derive no personal profit from the lottery;
(b) the total value of the prizes shall be not more than £300;
(c) the value of each prize shall be stated on every ticket or coupon."
Sub-section (3) of the same section provides:—
"A permit shall not be granted more than once in six months for the benefit of any one beneficiary."
There are quite a number of lotteries which will cease automatically if the prize fund is restricted to £300. As I have told the Minister already the figure I have advocated is a total prize fund of £1,000 and the Minister could review the position later on in the light of experience gained in 12 months after this measure has become law.
I should like the Minister to do away with the provision dealing with the superintendents of the Garda Síochána. I cannot see why they are brought into this at all. I think that in any district the necessary application for a licence should be made directly to the District Court. I think it would be a very small matter. Where the superintendents of the Garda Síochána are concerned there are far too many personalities involved. Besides, the superintendents have enough work on their hands already without this new job of issuing permits to carnivals, bazaars and lotteries.
I should also make reference to a provision in Section 26 which says that:—
"Not more than one-quarter of the gross proceeds shall be utilised for the expenses of promotion, including commission, and any free entry for the lottery shall be deemed to be a payment of commission to the extent of its value."
The Gael-Linn memorandum which every Deputy, including no doubt the Minister himself, has seen, shows the position as it will be experienced by other similar organisations promoting such lotteries. I do not propose to deal with that in detail. I should, however, like to say something on Part V of the Bill with regard to enforcement, evidence and penalties. Section 34 (1) says that every contract by way of gaming or wagering is void and sub-section (2) continues:—
"No action shall lie for the recovery of any money or thing which is alleged to be won or to have been paid upon a wager or which has been deposited to abide the event on which a wager is made."
As far as that provision is concerned, I do not agree that the Minister is facing up to facts. That means that a punter might plead the Gaming Act. It means that in fact an individual may have a substantial investment with the bookmaker or a firm of bookmakers and default and that such bookmaker shall have no redress in the law courts notwithstanding the fact that the Exchequer is very anxious to recognise the bookmaking fraternity, as evidence its takings from them last year.
But supposing for a moment that a bookmaker defaults on an individual. What happens then? That individual can report the bookmaker to the Racing Board and recover his debt from the Racing Board and until such time as the bookmaker purges the debt he is warned off every race meeting in Ireland.
In England, when they set up the Royal Commission on Gambling, there was a test case. I would refer the Minister to Parliamentary Papers, H.C., 1950-51, No. 8. There is a special section dealing with the enforceability of wagering transactions and I am suggesting that the Minister will bear it in mind. The commission reported to Parliament:—
"Section 18 of the Gaming Act, 1845, provides that all contracts or agreements, whether by parole or in writing, by way of gaming or wagering, shall be null and void and unenforceable in courts of law. The Act relates only to the original contract made between the wagering parties. It does not affect subsequent agreements between the same parties relating to the original transaction but supported by fresh consideration on both sides.
Until the recent decision of the House of Lords, in Tom Hill v. William Hill, Limited"
—they are the big English bookmakers—
"the courts proceeded on the basis of the decision in Hyams v. Stuart King, which decided that a renewed promise to pay the outstanding debt was legally enforceable if given in return for an undertaking by the other party that he would forbear to do some legitimate act, such as reporting the defaulter to a sporting association, which might prevent him from enjoying future betting facilities or amenities at racecourses.
The decision in Hill v. Hill has reversed the decision in Hyams v. Stuart King. The issue to be decided by the House of Lords was whether a promise by the loser of a racing bet to pay an amount equal to his debt in return for the winner's promise not to report his default to the stewards of the Jockey Club was enforceable at law. On a careful analysis of the transactions which led to an apparently new agreement between the winner and the loser, the House of Lords held that there was, in the case before them, no fresh consideration given by the loser, whose promise was really no more than a promise to pay his existing racing debt. By a majority of four opinions to three the House of Lords held that such a promise falls within the Gaming Act, 1845, and that no action could be brought upon it."
By a majority of four votes to three.