Betting Bill, 1930—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Bill is intended to replace the existing Betting Act of 1926, which has been continued under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act. The Betting Act of 1926 might be described as experimental. The main effect of it was that cash betting off racecourses became legal. Two years after the passing of the 1926 Act—about October, 1928—a Committee of the Dáil and Seanad was set up to consider its effects and any amendments that might be necessary. That Committee sat on about sixteen days, heard a great number of witnesses, and came unanimously to the conclusion that we ought not to go back to the position that existed before the passing of the Act of 1926. It recommended a considerable number of amendments, nearly all of which have been incorporated in the Bill now before the Seanad. One or two recommendation were not accepted, and additional changes were made in the Bill during its passage through the Dáil.

There have been a certain number of attacks on the principle of the Bill. It has been alleged that there has been a great increase in the habit of betting as a result of the opening of the betting shops. We are satisfied that there is no evidence to support that contention. What has, in fact, happened is that betting which was done secretly before is now being done openly and publicly. If there is as good enforcement of the Act now as there was in the first year, if there is as complete a record of transactions as there was during the first couple of years—and I think that is so because a special enforcement or detective staff has been established to ensure that the Act is observed—then, it is true that there is no appreciable increase in the amount of betting. We all know that there were bookmakers in every town before the passing of the Act of 1926. Sometimes you would see a shop with a couple of packages of bird-seed in the window. You might be tempted to wonder how the man was able to live by the sale of a few packages of canary seed. He was, in fact, carrying on another business. Very often you saw a news-agent's shop with a greater number of people than would be attracted by the sale of newspapers. Since the passing of the Act of 1926 the newspaper shops, in many cases, have not the same numbers of people resorting to them. Other classes of shops have disappeared. We are satisfied that there has been no appreciable increase in betting, despite widespread allegations to the contrary, but that what has happened is that betting formerly done secretly is being carried on in these registered premises.

The Bill proposes to make quite a number of changes in the law. The law will be tightened up in a variety of respects. It will be tightened up in respect of juvenile betting, payment of odds, loitering, and so forth. We hope, as a result of these changes, that any practices which were undesirable will be ended. If the effect of this Bill is not to remove every undesirable practice capable of removal, there is always the possibility of legislation following further experience. We think that to go back to the old state of affairs would not only be to effect no improvement as regards the expenditure of money on betting by those who cannot afford it, but to lose revenue to the State, and to have a sort of disease brought into existence again. It is most undesirable that we should have a law against the enforcement of which there is what might be described as a general conspiracy. That was the position as regards the old law in relation to cash betting. It was not enforced; it could not be enforced, and practically nobody believed it should be enforced. The police carried out raids from time to time. It was alleged—perhaps not without foundation—that very frequently warning was given of these raids, and that it was arranged that somebody would be caught on the premises. There would then be a conviction. In fact, however, there was no serious attempt to enforce the law. If we were not to pass this Bill, if we were to allow the Act of 1926 to lapse and to substitute nothing for it, we would get back to that old position, which would be better in no respect than the present position and worse in quite a number of respects.

I disagree entirely with what the Minister has said. I have some experience of these matters. I have no objection whatsoever to betting. I have betted myself; I have owned racehorses and I have ridden them. I might say that I was brought up in a racing stable. I have no moral objection to betting of any sort, but I do object to betting in houses. People who like to bet can go to a race meeting and bet on a horse or against him. I do not think that that is any harm. At all events, it cannot be prevented. I agree that betting in houses cannot be altogether prevented, but when the Minister says that there has been no increase of betting I entirely disagree with him. I believe that the licensing of houses was introduced solely because of the greed of Ministers for Finance both in England and here. They wanted to get more money, and they threw over the result of experience of years and years for the purpose of getting that money. Everybody I have heard speak on the matter is of opinion that there is a great deal of juvenile betting and, what is worse than the actual betting, perpetual thinking about odds and horses. People who do not know one end of a horse from another spend all their time in rushing off to get the latest news, the latest betting, and ascertaining how the betting is going up and down. All that is very undesirable. In the case of the sweeps there is none of that sort of thing. You put your money into the sweep and you can shut your eyes and bother no more about it until the time comes when you either win or lose— probably lose. This perpetual talking about races, the odds on horses, whether a horse is going to be "pulled" or not, is disastrous, and I strongly object to it. I suppose this Bill will last, like so many other bad Bills, and that there is not much use in spending time over it. When the Betting Act was first introduced I objected to it. I think that Act was most demoralising, and I object to the present measure.

I cannot say that I agree altogether with my colleague, Senator Colonel Moore, regarding the Betting Bill. The main difference between us would seem to be that Senator Colonel Moore has no objection to betting provided people go to racecourses to bet. He would allow the wealthy owner or supporter of racing to go to the race meetings and to bet there, but he would restrain the liberty of the ordinary working man to have a bet. Personally, I think it is regrettable that so many people bet on horses. It would be very desirable socially if there were less betting or none at all, or if it were confined to a day's sport at race meetings. But we have to face facts. I agree with Senator Colonel Moore that the betting offices, since their establishment in the Saorstát, have been a disgrace, judging by the crowds of impoverished people who are invariably found in their vicinity. But we have to take human nature as it is.

In many respects, this Bill aims at introducing reforms in the administration of these betting houses. Personally, I would like to see all betting houses abolished, but I do not see how that could be done without having a recurrence of the illegalities that were practised before the Betting Act was passed. At the same time, there are certain things going on in this country to which I think, on a Bill of this kind, we can refer. We have at present an extraordinary development in the form of sweepstakes. Whatever may be said on behalf of sweepstakes in so far as they aid the hospitals, I do think that the sweepstake business is becoming a perfect menace and is growing out of all proportion to what anyone could have expected. It is creating a horse-betting mentality in this country. As a result of the excitement and publicity, young people and old people are now interested in horse-racing. We are devoting far too much time to interest in horse-racing, which connotes gambling. I venture to say that during the last couple of years people have learned to back horses who formerly knew little or nothing about betting. This craze has penetrated to the children in the schools and it has affected even old men. Anybody who pays a visit to a country town and compares the position now with the position two or three years ago, when bookmakers' offices were legalised, will realise that what I say is true. You have people driving up in motor cars and donkey carts to these establishments. You have both children and grown-ups patronising them.

There is one big objection to betting, apart from the consideration of losing money, and that is the effect which it has on the minds of people during their hours of work. Those of us who have had to do with people in business know that considerable distraction takes place on the day of every big race. In the forenoon, the employees are agitated about what they are going to back and what certain people are tipping. As a result, there is very little work done. It is only when the result of the big race has leaked into the works in some way that there is anything done. The sweepstakes have given an impetus to what I call the "betting mind" in this country. It will soon be time for the country to take stock of its position and find where it has drifted with this business of betting and sweepstakes. If the present state of affairs continues, our folklore will be "Sporting Chronicle" form and our tradition will develop into knowledge of the winners of the Grand National in 1922 or 1923. That is very undesirable, in my opinion, and it is something with which we have to reckon. I do think that the sweepstakes have had a most demoralising effect on the people and that very soon we shall have to reconsider our whole position with regard to them.

As regards the Bill, I should like to have the guidance of the Minister on one or two points in order to save unnecessary work later. These points may seem to be more or less Committee points but, if we had direction from the Minister, we would be guided as to how far we might frame amendments on Committee Stage. Right through the Bill, there is one fundamental provision that I take exception to and to which I think the Seanad should take exception. That is that applications for licences have to be made to the Gárda. I feel that that is an undesirable duty, in the first place, to impose upon the Gárda and, in the second place, that it is bad legislation to leave the Gárda as arbiters of the question as to who is and who is not fit to hold a bookmaker's licence in other words, to give what is really a judicial decision. Unless the Minister convinces me to the contrary, I shall, on Committee Stage, seek to remove this power or function from the Gárda and translate it to the District Justice.

There is another provision in the Bill on which I should like direction. That is with regard to betting outside the country. If this Bill means anything, it presupposes that we are acting as realists. According to the Bill, it will not be possible for anybody in the Saorstát to back horses outside the country. The Minister spoke about having a law which could not be enforced. With all due respect, I suggest that here he is trying to impose a law which he cannot enforce. Let us look at it in a practical way. I shall assume that an owner at the Curragh, or elsewhere, has a horse which he proposes to run in the Irish Derby or the English Derby or Grand National. He expects that horse to win. Having gone to the expense of breeding and rearing that horse and having trained it, he is anxious to put £1,000 on it. The Minister, as Minister for Finance, I am sure, would like to see that £1,000 bet made in the country. But where is that owner to place £1,000 in this country? We have to look at the matter from the practical point of view. I suggest that that money will find its way across the water, legally, or illegally, and that it is absurd to place an embargo on cross-Channel bets. I know that there is what technicians in bookmaking term "laying off"—that there is an adjustment of bets so that a bookmaker will not lose or win too much on any particular horse. I should like the Minister's assistance on that question. I understand also that there are bookmakers in the Six Counties who have been very consistent supporters of racing in the Twenty-Six Counties. It might be worth consideration whether, apart from the bookmakers on the other side being allowed to operate here, these bookmakers, who have been a considerable asset to the training stables in the Twenty-Six Counties, ought to be considered as eligible to operate in the betting business here.

I have dealt with the question of application to the Gárda instead of to the District Justice. Under Section 5, there is an option left to the Minister. Again I think that these matters, being matters for judicial decision, ought to be dealt with by the courts as an application for a spirit licence or anything else of that nature is dealt with. There is, in my opinion, a contradiction in the Bill itself. Under Section 29 there is a reference to persons under eighteen being allowed on betting premises other than persons ordinarily resident. I am of opinion that no person under eighteen ought to be allowed to reside on premises occupied by a bookmaker. In one section of the Act, I think that is more or less indicated. I think that not even the proprietor of the betting premises ought to be allowed to have his family residing on the premises. The Minister has certain views with regard to bookmakers. I read some of them and I think that the Minister hardly considers that betting premises are very desirable places for children of, say, ten to fifteen years. I think the Minister should indicate his view on this question and state whether he would be prepared to accept an amendment providing that betting premises should not be used as a residence for children—even the children of the bookmaker. Under Section 22, a bet is limited to 1s. and over. I do not know what a shilling bet really means.

One shilling on any hazard.

Would that mean 6d. each way? Would that be a shilling bet?

No. That would be on two hazards.

Right through the Bill, there is provision for Excise penalties. I should like to have the Minister's view on that. On Report Stage in the other House, certain Excise penalties were eliminated. In other cases, they were left in. Why were they eliminated in some cases and allowed to remain in others? It seems to me that it would be very desirable from the Revenue Commissioners' point of view to have this unpleasant duty removed from them. The court should operate in the ordinary way and impose the penalties.


The Minister has been obliged to leave the House to take part in a division in the Dáil.

I am not enthusiastic about the Bill and I am not enthusiastic about betting. I think it is a social evil. But we are up against it and we have got to deal with it. I should like the Seanad to give attention to the points I have mentioned, so that we shall be able to tighten up the measure further before it leaves us.

I take it that it is the view of the Minister that it is necessary to amend the Act of 1926, because the Joint Committee which considered the matter so reported. The Minister stated that there is no evidence to convince him that there has been any increase in the volume of betting since betting was legalised. Whatever statistical information may tend to show, observation belies that belief of the Minister. Conversation with persons who are intimate with the masses of the people, who have hourly contact with them, leads me to believe that there has been a big increase in the amount of betting and in interest in betting since the legalising of betting. The figures which have been published show in regard to betting that the amount of revenue has varied in this way: 1928, £149,500; 1929, £137,000; 1930, £152,000; 1931, £151,600. There is a very considerable fall as between 1928 and 1929, 1928 being the first full year in which the Act was in operation. But there was a very considerable increase from 1929 to 1930, and that continued into 1931. What that means as regards the number of bets we are not able to say, but the evidence given before the Commission in 1928 indicated that the great bulk of the bets were in sums under 2/-.

I am inclined to believe, from conversations that I have had, that the number of small bets has undoubtedly increased considerably since the public opening of these betting houses. I am quite convinced that very large numbers of people who hitherto were not in the habit of interesting themselves in horse racing or betting have become accustomed to it. I agree with Senator Connolly that that has been emphasised since the development of the sweepstakes. As the Minister has said, the alternative to passing this Bill is to let the present practice in regard to the betting shops continue, or else let the existing Act lapse at the end of the year. That means going back to the pre-1926 period. Whatever we may say about the evils of betting, I do not think it would be an advantage to allow the existing Act to lapse unless the Minister had something better to propose.

I think it is unfortunate that we have no proposition from the Minister other than this Bill to deal with what is undoubtedly an evil. The fact that there is a yield of £152,000 a year in revenue is an indication of the grave extent of the evil. There is also the fact that the great majority of the bets made are of small amounts and, according to the evidence that was submitted to the Commission, these small bets are usually made by very great numbers of women and young persons. The question of how this evil can be prevented from growing will require very careful consideration. The evidence given before the Commission is, in itself, sufficient to convince anyone interested in social welfare and the general economic welfare of the country of the necessity of preventing the growth of this evil. I think, at any rate, it is sufficient to warn the House and the Government of the importance of dealing with the matter in a very serious fashion.

General O'Duffy, Commissioner of the Gárda, expressed the belief that if the recommendations which he made— and the bulk of them have been embodied in this Bill—were put into law, they would remove the great majority of the evils of which he complained. For that reason, I am going to support the Second Reading, and I hope that it will pass. I hope that certain amendments will have very earnest consideration. We must seriously consider the evil of which all those persons who gave evidence before the Commission from the social, educational, cultural and economic side complained. I do not think it is enough that we should have only this Bill before us.

I am curious to have the Minister's explanation of the provision in the Bill which intends to repeal the Ready Money Football Betting Act. I have read the evidence as presented to the Commission, and I have also read the Minister's statement. While not being thoroughly conversant with all the intricacies of this pastime, I am afraid that the simple repeal of the Act will merely invite those concerned in money making by this method to intensify the system of coupon betting by advertising, publishing, printing, writing and circulating advertisements regarding betting on football matches. The Act was passed in 1920 to deal with an admitted evil. I am told by those who know that the evil still persists, notwithstanding the Act. I think it is admitted that it has not grown in quite the manner that was threatening in 1920.

A simple repeal of the Act seems to me to invite the type of person connected with cheaper or lower-grade newspapers keen on getting a new circulation to excite a betting interest in football. Those who are keenly interested in the development of athletics and sports of a healthy kind in this country are hopeful that they will be maintained on an amateur basis and be as far as possible removed from betting. I am afraid the simple repeal of this Act dealing with ready money football betting will have a detrimental effect in respect of the game of football. I hope the Minister will be able to remove my doubts in this matter or that the Seanad will adopt some means of retaining this prohibition regarding betting on football.

I intended to follow Senator Connolly in some respects regarding the effect of sweepstakes, but I think I will reserve that until a later Bill comes from the Dáil. I am generally inclined to agree that the relief of hospitals monetarily is going to be bought at a very high cost. I, too, would like to have some explanation from the Minister prior to the Committee Stage as to the limitation to 1s. I know that the Committee by a majority recommended 1s., but all the evidence that was given, except the evidence of the spokesman of the Revenue Commissioners, recommended that the limitation should be 2s. and not 1s. It is very important to give full weight to what the Revenue Commissioners say in this matter. But they are naturally inclined to think of it from the point of view of revenue and perhaps they are inclined to over-stress certain administrative difficulties which may arise through the adoption of one figure as compared with another. As between the Commissioners, the Teachers' Organisation representative, the representatives of the Saving Certificates Organisation, the representatives of the Churches and other people there was almost unanimity as far as I can see in favour of not less than 2s. as the amount of the bet which should be legalised. I think it would require a good deal of argument to sustain the proposition that 1s. should be substituted for the recommendation of 2s. made by witnesses.

There are other matters with which I would like to deal, but I think they had better be deferred until the Committee Stage. On the ground that the present Bill is a tightening up of the existing Act and will tend to remove certain evils which have been exhibited by the working of the existing Act, I am prepared to support it.

The last two speakers have referred to sweeps. I do not think we ought to enter into the question of sweeps on this particular Bill. A Bill will come before the House within a very short period dealing with sweeps and we can discuss the whole question in the proper time. Most of us will agree that if betting is to take place it should be regulated as well as possible. The object of the Betting Bill on the first occasion was to try to get some control on the question of betting. This Bill has been introduced, as the Minister has said, in the light of the experience gained in the working of the existing Act. Senator Connolly dealt at great length with the question of betting and he talked about our tastes and culture and everything else. Personally, I do not see any great objection to a person betting 1/- or 2/- if that person wishes to do so and if that person does not do himself or herself any harm. My first acquaintance with betting goes back to the period when I was twelve years old. I went to work at the age of twelve years and I was sent by the men in the place where I was working to put bets on horses. I did not bet myself. One could not afford to do much betting on 2/6 per week.

You should have put on the 2/6.

I could if I had not to support myself. I was not brought up with a golden spoon in my mouth. I had to earn my living early in life. Other people were much better circumstanced than I was. At the time I was putting on the bets for those men there was a considerable amount of betting done amongst all sections of the community. The betting at that time was carried on in shops, in lanes and in alleys. In my opinion, it was much better that the Minister introduced legislation to have some control over betting. I must confess that I do not approve of the manner in which this business is carried on. I think it is an absolute disgrace to allow into betting shops some of the people who are now betting. I have seen women standing outside betting shops after putting 6d. on a horse, and I think it would be a great deal better if they spent that 6d. on soap and went away and gave themselves a good washing. As long as people want to bet they will bet notwithstanding what regulations this Oireachtas may make.

I do not think we ought to be painting the picture any worse than it really is. The evil is there. Some people do not consider it is there, but I hold that it is. The people are determined to have their little bet, rich and poor alike. The betting is not confined to the poor people whose morals, we are told, are so much affected. Betting is not confined to any one section of the community; all classes of the community indulge in betting and, that being so, it is necessary that we should have legislation to see it carried out on the best possible lines. There is a lot of talk about looking after the morals of the people and there is a lot of talk about culture, but I think there are other evils just as bad as betting from the point of view of morals or of culture. We have, for example, modern dancing and that, in my opinion, is doing considerably more to injure the morals of the people than is betting.

A good deal has been said about the cultured tastes of the people. At the present moment we have them listening to canned music in the picture houses. The fare served up to them in the picture houses is, in my opinion, doing considerably more harm to the morals of the people than is betting. When we talk about looking after the morals of the people let us not forget the important fact that there are many people other than the poor people who are accustomed to frequent the betting shops. No doubt there are poor people who go there to put on 6d. on a horse, but as against that there are many well-to-do people who put on much more money. Their morals would require to be looked after just as much as the morals of the poor people. The poor people may lose 6d. or 1s., but I do not think that morally they are doing themselves much harm. They may be foolish, but that is the worst that can be said about them.

There are certain proposals in the Bill that could be better dealt with on the Committee Stage. There is, however, one important point to which I will make reference. The Minister makes one proposal in the Bill which, to my mind, will help to do away with the problem of loitering about betting shops. He proposes in Section 20 to make it illegal to pay out on the result of any race on the day on which that race is run during the period that elapses between a quarter of an hour before the first race until a quarter of an hour after the last race. That means that it will be illegal to pay out until the day's racing is over. I think, however, that the Minister is going too far. As I read the section, it would be impossible for the bookmaker to pay out on the following day, during the period when racing would be in progress, the amount that had been won on the preceding day. That is my interpretation of the section, and, if it is correct, I believe the Minister has gone too far. I agree entirely with the proposal in the Bill about not paying until the racing is finished. If that were not in the Bill I would be prepared to submit an amendment to make it illegal to pay out on the result of a race until the racing on that particular day would be over.

The evil of people gathering around betting shops is largely attributable to the fact that they are paid as soon as the result of a race is known. At the present time people gather round a betting shop and they bet perhaps 6d. each way on a horse. If that horse wins they invest the winnings on some other horse in another race. That is what keeps people loitering about betting shops all day. This proposal to make it illegal for the bookmaker to pay until after the last race will remedy that evil of people gathering around betting shops. From conversations I have had with people engaged in the betting business, and from my own observations, I may say that for the most part the people who gather in the betting shops are not the people who bet at all. Large numbers of those who congregate in this fashion are unemployed and there are others who do not bet. Most of the decent bookmakers would be glad if that condition of affairs were remedied and if these people were prevented from loitering.

The whole proposal in regard to paying out does not appear to me to be clear. I will not put my opinion against the Minister's, but, as I understand the section, I think it would be illegal to pay out on the following day during racing hours the amount won on the previous day. If that is the position I think it is going too far. If we allow people to bet we must be clear and reasonable about it. A considerable number of Dublin workmen—in fact, all the Dublin workmen—have only their dinner-hour in which to make a bet. They are engaged all day on their work, and their dinner-hour is the only period they have in which to make a little bet. If they win on a race one day and cannot get paid during dinner-hour next day they are placed in an awkward position. I would like that matter to be considered carefully before the Bill goes through the House.

Senator Connolly mentioned one point with which I am in sympathy. He referred to the granting of licences on the certificate of the Gárda. I think the procedure should be such that application would have to be made to the District Court. I am making this suggestion in the interests of the Gárda. We all know that heretofore, when betting was illegal, it was being carried on continually in all sorts of places. We know that certain police officers were bribed when they were going on beat duty to avoid going down certain streets where the bookmakers were carrying on business. We must face the facts. I am not making any insinuations. The people engaged in the business will tell you that they had to do this in order to keep the eyes of the police off their transactions. I make the suggestion about the District Court in order to protect the Gárda from any insinuations. The bookmakers should apply for licences to the District Court just the same as publicans. It would be much better for the bookmakers to make the application in that fashion. Of course, that is a Committee point, but it is, in my opinion, sufficiently important to mention in this debate.

I have been informed that the manner in which the revenue authorities have been dealing with the bookmakers has not been actually fair. I am not making any charge against the revenue officials. They have always carried out their duties admirably. In every department of the revenue I have always found that they carried out their duties admirably. What I am told is that the Revenue Commissioners, when they suspect that a certain bookmaker is not entering on the proper sheets the bets made with him, send in test bets. These test bets, if they are not entered properly on the sheets, lead to a prosecution against the bookmaker. The bookmakers say it is not fair for a revenue officer to hand a docket to a third party in a public-house or some other place and ask that person to bet 2/6 each way on a horse, handing him 5/- with which to go into the bookmaker's office. In the meantime the person who has been handed the 5/- may have altered the docket, and the revenue officer cannot swear or give proof in any way that the third person handed in the docket specifying a bet of 2/6 each way as originally arranged. There may be nothing in that point, but it seems to me that the system is open to abuse. If any effort can be made to prevent a person feeling aggrieved in such a matter it should be made without any hesitation.

I think we are all very familiar lately—in fact, we are surfeited—with lectures on the evils of betting. There is one thing absolutely certain, and that is, that as long as human nature is constituted as the Almighty thought fit to frame it, betting will go on. That being so, it is absolutely necessary for legislative bodies to deal with the question. This Bill, so far as it goes, seems to me to be an attempt to deal with the matter in the right way. Certain people have asked me to mention here that the great evil which we have to guard against in this country is the betting office. That has already been referred to, and probably the case has been put more forcibly by other Senators. Cases have been mentioned to me of most respectable men whose wives were bitten with this gambling craze. These men hand their wages to their wives; the women go to the betting offices; they neglect their children, their houses, and their husbands, and they keep betting all day.

So far as this Bill tends to stop that evil I quite approve of it. I think it is a step in the right direction, but I do not think that it goes far enough. The way these betting offices have multiplied all over the country is simply ridiculous. I know villages and small country towns where there are two or three or more of these offices. The people who have asked me to ventilate their grievances in the matter are strongly of opinion that the recommendations contained in the Report of the Special Committee which investigated the question ought not to be departed from and the number of offices which are permitted in any district should depend upon the population of the district. It is perfectly absurd in a great many of these small places to see the offices crowded with all sorts of people, desirable and undesirable. One office would be quite sufficient. The fewer of these offices the better.

One thing arises in the debate that seems to me to be of importance and that is the employment of unregistered detectives. The bookmaker has to pay the State a certain sum for his licence and I think it is only just that he should be protected from a practice which seems to me to be extraordinarily invidious. Perhaps it is a practice from which later on the public will have to be protected generally. If it is allowable for a revenue officer to give a gratuitous acquaintance in a publichouse 5s. in order to test a bookmaker'sbona fides, there is no end to what the State may do in other departments. If it is allowable for revenue officials to hand money like that to casual acquaintances in publichouses a most serious position arises. As I have pointed out, bookmakers are obliged to pay the State for their licences and I maintain that in return they should be protected from this type of amateur espionage. I cannot talk too strongly of this practice because, unless it is checked, it may spread to other departments of the State. I cannot understand dignified officials adopting that attitude. Even under the British régime it was not etiquette for the average official to take notice of anything pertaining to his office after his ordinary hours of work. This sort of amateur espionage to which I have referred is really a serious matter and the practice should not be allowed to spread.

A great deal of clap-trap has been talked about the ethics of betting. I do not suppose the important industry of horse racing would have existed in this country were it not for betting because the prizes offered at the various race meetings in the Free State would not encourage anyone to raise bloodstock. I will not comment very much upon the morals of betting. If you look at the people who do not like betting, the expressions on their faces, their very appearance, will supply you with an answer as to why they do not approve of betting.

I just wish to state that I am supporting the Second Reading of this Bill. I think it is an attempt to eradicate whatever evils are attached to the Act. I do not think that betting is such an evil as it is represented to be. There is one feature in the Bill to which I would like to refer and that is the section dealing with paying out. Section 20 (5) fixes definitely the hours during which moneys may be paid out by the bookmaker. The section mentions a quarter of an hour before the time fixed for the starting of the first race and a quarter of an hour after the last race. All races in England, Scotland or Ireland, with the exception of a few meetings in connection with which there were alterations recently, take place usually during the lunch or dinner hours of working people. If the bookmakers are precluded from paying out during these hours, how can the workman collect his winnings, if he has winnings to collect?

I suggest that definite paying out hours should be fixed in the Bill, and I submit that to the Minister for his consideration.

I would like at the outset to refer again to the points raised by Senator Gogarty and Senator Farren. It would be unwise to give a story, such as they told, a long start. There is absolutely no foundation for the suggestion that such a thing is done. In the first place it would be useless for an officer to do it because he must give evidence himself that he placed the bet. The revenue officers engaged on that work go in themselves and make the bets. It is possible, of course, that an officer may go in with a muffler round his neck. The fact that he places the bet himself enables him to give evidence afterwards whether the bet was recorded or not. I do not think the theory that there has been a great increase in betting either as a result of the sweepstakes or of the opening of betting shops can be substantiated. We must depend on figures and their validity depends on whether there is good enforcement or bad enforcement. We think that there is as good enforcement as you could get. I do not say that every bet is recorded. I do not think we will ever reach that stage. Taking the years since the original Act was passed the return for the betting shops is as follows:—1928, £149,500; 1929, £137,000; 1930, £152,000; and 1931, £151,000. There was a big drop in the year ending March, 1929. We believe that was due to evasion. At first the bookmakers were not up to all the tricks in the matter of evasion but after a time they got wise to them. On the other hand we got our machinery perfected to deal with them and succeeded in getting scorching penalties imposed in a number of cases.

We believe a state of equilibrium is now established, and that comparing the figures for last year with the year 1928, they really mean that the volume of betting was practically the same in the two years. We have gone into the matter as carefully as we could with the information before us, and we are satisfied that there is no increase in betting. All that has happened is that betting has become more apparent. As Senator Farren pointed out, before the original Act was introduced you had people in back yards and on the street receiving bets. Now people see all that going on in the betting shops. I think that is more satisfactory, because now you have an opportunity of dealing with the problem, in so far as there is a problem. I agree that, on the whole, the question of betting is not a problem, because if a man does not over-bet, or bet with money that is not his own, then there is no great harm, not that I ever made a bet myself. I can speak impartially on the matter. I am not defending the practice. With reference to the Ready Money Football Betting Act, it was a sheer omission that it was not repealed in 1926. It seems to us that it is better there should be one sort of betting. For instance, even without the Act being repealed, there is nothing to prevent a person betting on a football match if he writes out and fills in the coupons himself. What he is prohibited from doing is using one of the printed slips.

What I referred to was the prohibition in relation to the issuing of advertisements regarding betting on football matches. Now that you propose to repeal that Act, it means there will be an invitation to increase the amount of public advertising encouraging people to bet.

I think that only refers to the coupons on which the betting is done. If there was any likelihood that there was going to be great publicity for betting, something corresponding to betting on the Derby, then there might be grounds for taking some action with regard to that. I have not heard it suggested from anyone connected with the matter that there was any danger in this. Senator Connolly and other Senators spoke about the waste of energy and time associated with betting. It may be that certain people spend far more time betting than is justifiable, but you cannot get rid of that by closing the betting shops. If you want to achieve what the Senators complain of you would have to take far more drastic steps. It might be that you would have to take steps to prohibit the publication of racing news and so on in the newspapers. I do not think you would get support for that.

With regard to betting outside the country I do not see that we could deal with that by this Bill. We can prevent elaborate machinery being set up here which would mean that practically all the bets, or at any rate a very great proportion of them would go outside the country where they would not have to pay tax. I do not think you could make that absolutely watertight.

By accident, as a matter of fact as the result of an amendment carried in the Seanad, the Six-County bookmakers who had been accustomed to come here were prevented under the 1926 Act from obtaining a licence. There is a special provision in this Bill enabling the Minister for Justice to grant a licence to bookmakers from outside the country. The number of them will not be large. The machinery that is available for granting these licences to bookmakers would not be appropriate and this special provision is introduced. Another point that was raised was that no person under eighteen years of age should be allowed on a bookmaker's premises. We feel that that would be a hardship on many bookmakers down the country who carry on business in their own houses. I do not think it would be reasonable to say that they should get premises elsewhere.

Does the Minister mean that the Irish bookmakers cannot lay-off their bets with English bookmakers? The prices given by Irish bookmakers are already short enough, and if they were not allowed to avail of the international prices they would be shorter still.

We are making no change in the law in that respect. With regard to the excise penalties we have struck out provisions with regard to them as far as we thought we could. We have only left in a certain number of excise penalties. We feel that in certain cases there must be excise penalties. These penalties must operate to create a certain amount of terror because you are dealing with a class of people who are accustomed to take a chance. They would be prepared to take a chance against the revenue as readily as they would against anybody else. If, for instance, you had only small penalties of £5 or £2 then the bookmaker would simply toss for doubles or quits. It is absolutely necessary, particularly when you are dealing with bookmakers, to have fairly stiff penalties.

As regards a limitation on the amount of betting and the minimum bet of a shilling to which Senator Johnson referred, that of course was a recommendation from the committee that considered the matter. Some people, I think were in favour of not making it so high, while some wanted to make the minimum bet larger. When dealing with that, one has to recall some of the evils and some of the machinery that existed before the original Act was passed. If you make the minimum bet too high, then you are going to have touts collecting bets for the bookmakers instead of people going into the betting shops making bets for themselves. We came to the conclusion that if you made the minimum bet too high you would not prevent bets being made, but you would simply recreate the old machinery of touts going round and taking bets on the streets. The Committee heard all the evidence on that and went into the matter very thoroughly. They covered all the points that were to be considered in connection therewith, and came to the conclusion I have referred to. Senator Farren and some other Senators raised a point about paying out. I will look into the section to see whether or not it has the meaning the Senator said it had. It deals with one of the recommendations made by the Committee.

With regard to the making of applications to the Civic Guard for certificates of personal fitness and suitability of premises, that has been the arrangement since 1926, and it has worked satisfactorily. It is an arrangement against which I think nothing can be said. The arguments put forward against it are simply based on a sort of theory that has no relation to facts. The reason for putting that duty on the Civic Guards and not arranging for the application to be made to the District Court, was that we did not want to put the betting shops on the same level as licensed premises for the sale of alcoholic liquor. Supposing that we had to take any steps to close these betting shops, or limit their number, we did not want the position to be that claims for compensation would arise similar to those under the Intoxicating Liquor Act. Broadly, we wanted the position to be that any suitable person who applied should get a licence, and that there was no property value in the licence: that anybody could have a licence provided he was certified to be a suitable person and that the premises he proposed using were suitable. If you want to limit the number of premises the way to do it is not so much by refusing an applicant the right to have a betting shop, but rather by having a different scale of licence fees for the different districts. You could, for instance, raise the fee to such a figure that it would tend to limit the number. What we wanted to avoid was giving a property value to the licence. That is why we avoided having the same machinery for dealing with public houses and with betting houses.

The present position is that a person having given the required notice makes application to the Superintendent of the Guards for a certificate of personal fitness. The Superintendent can only refuse that certificate on a certain number of limited grounds, which he must state. There is an appeal to the District Justice if the certificate is refused. We feel that system has worked in quite a satisfactory way. It has thrown no undue burden on the police. It is no more onerous than some other duties which the Guards have to perform. For instance, the Civic Guards have to say whether or not in their opinion a particular person is a suitable person to get a certificate to carry firearms. There is no reason why a Superintendent of the Civic Guards should not, in the first instance, say, in the case of a man who makes application for a certificate of personal fitness to be a bookmaker, whether or not he should have it. If the applicant turns out to be a person who has been convicted of certain offences, then the Superintendent can say so. In such a case there is the right of appeal to the District Justice. The system has worked satisfactorily, and I have heard no complaints about it. It is not objected to by the Guards. As a matter of fact the Commissioner of the Civic Guards was asked specifically about it, and as I have said it is not objected to by the Guards. It is cheaper and more expeditious for the bookmaker than if he had to make application to the District Court. The present system prevents the time of the District Court being taken up with business which is not sufficiently serious or important to go before it. It is only when the certificate is refused by the Superintendent that the matter becomes a judicial one. The certificate may be refused by the Superintendent because of the financial circumstances or personal character of the applicant. Then the applicant may challenge that and the matter may go before the court. I do not think there are any grounds for making a change in the present system. The only benefit that I could see ensuing from a change would be that perhaps a certain number of hard worked members of the legal profession might earn a few pounds extra, but beyond that I do not see that any good would be done. There were some other small points raised but these can be dealt with on the Committee Stage of the Bill.

The Minister referred to the legal profession and said that he was told that the present arrangement of making the application to the Superintendent of the Civic Guards was quite satisfactory. I suppose it was the Superintendents who told him that?

Quite a number of others as well.

Question put and declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 10th June, 1931.