Betting Bill, 1930—Report Stage.


I move amendment 1:—

Section 11, sub-section (1). To delete all after the word "that" in line 66 down to the end of paragraph (k) and to substitute therefor the words "owing to the number of existing licensed premises in the district in which the premises to which the application relates are situate an addition to the number of such licensed premises would unduly increase the number thereof."

The section to which this is a proposed amendment is that which specifies the grounds for refusing to give a certificate to premises in which betting business is to be carried on. Amongst other grounds, are the grounds set out under paragraph (k) of sub-section (1). That provides that one ground of objection to granting a certificate to premises is that there are already enough of what I might call "gambling shops" in the immediate neighbourhood. It is similar to the rule laid down in the case of a surplus of publichouses under the Licensing Acts. Paragraph (k), as it at present stands in the Bill, reads: "If the application is in respect of premises which are not registered premises at the time the application is made, that there are already an excessive number of registered premises in the district in which the premises to which the application relates are situate." Before that objection can operate, there must be already an excess of registered premises. That ought not to be the case. It ought to be a good ground of objection that although there may not be an actual excess at present, if you add another you will have too many. My amendment provides for that. It is really only a drafting amendment, because I take it the Minister would agree that a valid objection should lie if there were already enough registered premises, although there might not be an excessive number.

I second the amendment, and I strongly support Senator Brown's proposal. A tremendous amount of evil is being done in the country by the multiplicity of these betting shops. I know dozens of cases in which respectable men hand over their wages to their wives, who are bitten with this betting craze, and who go down to the nearest betting-shop and spend both their time and their money there. Anything which would limit the facilities for carrying on in this manner would be extremely beneficial, and I support the amendment strongly. The only thing that can be said in favour of the multiplicity of these betting-shops—if it can be said in their favour—is that the Revenue derives a certain amount of profit from them. That is a consideration which ought not to weigh with us. I think it is very detrimental that the Revenue should derive profit from demoralising the people.

Senator Brown described this as a drafting amendment. As a matter of fact, the words in the Bill were deliberately inserted, and there is more than a drafting difference between them and the words in the amendment.

There is.

The view we took in drafting this Bill was that this power which resides in the Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána, and ultimately in the court, should be used only in extreme cases. Our view was—this point was indicated before the Joint Committee also—that numbers should be kept down, not by making it difficult to get licences, but by some graduated scheme of taxation. We have been making inquiries with a view to amending the present flat rate of £20 per premises, and having—I do not want these figures to be taken as indicating considered amounts—£40 in Dublin, £30 in other centres and, perhaps, £20 in very small towns, as at present. It was not possible to have these inquiries completed or to make any provision in regard to this matter in the present Finance Bill. The view we have taken is that the desirable way of keeping the numbers of betting premises within bounds is by making taxation high enough to effect that. The reason we do not favour other means—except in extreme cases, where the numbers might become a positive nuisance—is that we do not want the property value of premises to be increased because of the licence. We do not want a position to exist at all analogous to the position in relation to houses licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor.

If you conferred very rigid powers upon the police in regard to the refusal of licences, you might get a certain amount of sympathy with an offender who owned a house to which a licence attached. It might be urged that there was a valuable property in the house because of the licence and of the difficulty that would be experienced in obtaining a new licence. We do not want that position. Our view on the original Bill was that premises should be licensed except there was some objection to the actual state of the premises. At first we thought that the operation of competition and the need for making a livelihood would keep down numbers. We have since come to the conclusion that while that operates to a certain extent it will not be sufficient, and that what ought to be done is to make the tax fairly high, so that unless there is plenty of business for a house no person will be anxious to have it licensed or to pay the licence fee. We think that this is generally a better way than having some privileged person, who has got his premises licensed, enjoying a sort of monopoly and attaching to the licence a property value. I think there is very little in the amendment, because it is my opinion that even if we adopted Senator Brown's wording it would be difficult, except in extreme cases, for the Gárda Síochána to refuse a licence. It would be equally difficult for the District Justice to do other than support the Gárda Síochána. If you take a small country town with one registered premises, it would be extremely difficult for the police, even though one house was sufficient for the area, to say that the person actually in business should enjoy a monopoly of that business in that particular town. I am sure that the justice would be reluctant to come to that decision too. There will not be, in practice, a lot of difference whether we adopt the wording of Senator Brown or the wording of the Bill as regards the granting or refusal of licences. I prefer the form in the Bill, so that we shall not be giving the impression that it is a case of first come first served and that nobody else will get in. To keep numbers down I would prefer to carry into operation the suggestion which was before the Joint Committee of having graduated scales of fees in different areas, the scales being sufficiently high to limit the number of houses which it would be possible to open and maintain.

It is very valuable that we should get this statement from the Minister, not merely because it illuminates his mind on this amendment, but because it illuminates our mind in regard to his whole approach to this question. Most Senators will have some knowledge of the position in regard to the licensing of publichouses for the sale of intoxicating liquor. What is the explanation of the excessive number of places licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor? It is that the policy which the Minister has indicated as his policy in regard to betting shops was adopted for a period in this country in regard to licences for sale of intoxicants—the policy of giving licences to whomsoever applied, the idea being that, owing to competition, only the good houses would survive. The effect of that policy in regard to the licensing of liquor shops was to establish a vested interest in the licence. In fact, many of the evils of unlimited licences are fixed upon the country because of the carrying out of the policy which the Minister has indicated as determining his line of action on this Bill. While there will be some restriction by way of graduated licensing fees, the Minister contemplates giving a licence to whomsoever applies. Under other sections of the Bill, it is proposed to give freedom for publicity and advertising and advocacy of the practice of betting in those licensed shops. What the result will be in a few years' time we can imagine. I would ask the Minister to reconsider his whole attitude in the light of the possible results. If the view is to be that applicants shall receive licences freely, and that the limit will be only that imposed by licensing fees, and if under other sections we allow freedom of advertising, I think the end is going to be a very terrible one for this country.

I should have wished that the Minister had accepted the amendment moved by Senator Brown. It is only necessary to read the sub-section which the Minister proposes to retain to see how reasonable is the proposal made by Senator Brown. According to the Bill, the ground for refusal of a certificate of suitability of premises in paragraph (k) is as follows: "If the application is in respect of premises which are not registered premises at the time the application is made, that there are already an excessive number of registered premises in the district in which the premises to which the application relates are situate." The ground there is that there are already too many licensed premises. Senator Brown wants to give the objector—the police officer—power to say that if another application is granted there will be too many. In simple language, that is the meaning of the Senator's amendment. There may be two betting shops in a particular area. These two are enough, but they are not too many. If a third licence is granted there will be too many. In that state of affairs the Superintendent of police would not have a legal ground of objection under the Bill as it stands, but under Senator Brown's amendment he would. He would be able to say: "There are not too many licensed premises at present, but if another application is granted there will be too many." Senator Brown's amendment is in accordance with legislative precedent. It is in line with all the statutes that I know of in relation to the licensing of premises. The present section of the Bill runs counter to that idea. I understand what is in the Minister's mind. He thinks that these licences will be ephemeral things and that he will have power to destroy them. He does not want to create a property in licences. He said that on Second Reading. Whatever the Minister may think, force of circumstances will create a property in the licences. He cannot avoid that. If I could agree that it would be possible to prevent the creation of a property in a licence, I would follow the Minister, but it is quite impossible. We know something about the position in relation to other licences throughout the country, and I am satisfied that once you give a licence it is quite impossible to prevent the creation of a property in it. The Minister says: "I can withdraw a licence; there is no property in it; and I can grant a new licence." It will be quite impossible to do that. On the merits this amendment is justified and the opposition to it has no foundation in good sense.

This discussion has strengthened the uneasiness I have always felt with regard to this betting shop policy. We have listened to the legislative point of view as against the historical point of view, as explained by Senator Johnson, and we seem to have got into deeper and more difficult waters. I would ask the Minister to consider whether he should not make a clean cut with this general betting-shop policy. While admitting that betting has come to stay, I would ask him to look at the matter from another angle, and see whether he could not establish the "tote" in various centres, and cut out these betting shops altogether. I suggest that he should consider whether he should not have a totalisator under proper control in these cities and cover betting on all races and all events which are now covered by the betting-shops.

I hope the Minister will reconsider his attitude towards this amendment. I am not at all certain that it is going to bring about what most of us would like but I think the wording is better than the wording in the Bill and will give increased discretion. I find that amongst all sections of the community in Dublin—I do not know about the country districts—there is a very strong feeling that already there is an excessive number of betting shops. It is not very long since the present Government had to bring in a Bill for the purpose of reducing the number of licensed premises for the sale of intoxicants, and I firmly believe that unless some steps are taken within the next year or two we shall have a demand for the reduction of the number of betting licences. By that time, there will almost inevitably be a demand for compensation. Although, theoretically, those of us who sit here to-day may be able to say that these people have no right to compensation because they were warned, by that time there will be an opinion formed which will lead to a demand for compensation which it will be impossible to resist completely.

I understand the Minister's point of view but what he is driving at, I think, will not be achieved by increased licences. Increased licence fees for the City of Dublin will only, in the end, increase the amount of compensation to be claimed for that particular area if you have to have reductions. A double licence fee in Dublin represents really only the same payment from the point of view of profits made as half a licence or possibly a quarter licence in a country town, so that, in relation to the amount of profit made, the increased licence fee, while probably desirable, will leave you where you were so far as the different areas are concerned. I am not sure that the amendment will bring about what we want. There is a strong feeling—I do not mean amongst people who are opposed to betting but amongst people who recognise that betting exists and cannot be got rid of—that this opportunity should not be lost of finding some rough and ready method whereby a certain number of shops per head of the population in a district would be recognised as sufficient and that licences would not be sanctioned in addition to that number.

I have not the figures but I should like to say that there has been no appreciable increase in the number of licences issued recently. There is not that great and progressive increase in the number that some people feared under the present system. I am satisfied, moreover, that if the present licence fees were, say, doubled—premises are always ceasing to be licensed premises and new premises are being opened—in Dublin we would substantially decrease the number. I do not oppose the amendment very strenuously because I do not think that in practice it would differ much from the wording of the Bill, but if Senator Brown's idea were adopted and there were a real limitation on the issue of licences, it would become more difficult, not only forcibly to close houses, but to increase the charges on houses. It would be alleged that there was a property in these houses and that we were trying to destroy the value of that property. We have never heard, as people have heard in the case of licences for the sale of intoxicants, a plea made in betting cases for mercy on the ground that if there was a conviction it would reduce the value of the property from say, £1,200 to a considerably smaller figure. A limitation along the lines that have been mentioned would make the whole question much more difficult.

Amendment put and negatived.

I move amendment 2:—

New section. Before Section 21 to insert a new section as follows:—

"21.—Any person who writes, prints or publishes any advertisement or circular whereby it shall be made to appear that any registered proprietors of registered premises is willing to take bets relating to any race, contest, game or sport and circulates or permits to be circulated any such advertisement or circular outside of any registered premises shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds."

It seems to me that this amendment is hardly in order on this Stage of the Bill. To begin with it proposes more than a verbal change, and I think it is well outside the subject-matters that were left over for ocnsideration on the Report Stage. The Senator's amendment seems to me to go right through the whole Bill. We discussed on Committee the schedule which included the Ready Money Football Betting Act in so far as it relates to advertising and circularising on football matches, but this amendment deals with advertising and circularising in regard to horse racing and every other kind of racing. It does not even mention football betting. As a matter of fact the amendment applies to the whole Bill, and, therefore, I submit it is not in order.


Your point, Senator, seems to be that certain specified things were left over for the Report Stage. That is not so. The whole subject-matter of the Bill is open for discussion on the Report Stage, and Senator Johnson is quite in order.

May I suggest that I think it would be desirable, for the purpose of discussing these amendments, if the House were to recommit the Bill? It is almost essential, I think, that it should be discussed in a Committee rather than in a Report Stage manner. I think that course ought to be agreeable to the House.


You are quite entitled, Senator, to move that the Bill be recommitted, but the House may or may not agree to that.

I move accordingly.

I wish to support the motion for the recommittal of the Bill and for this reason: I do not quite understand the meaning of this new section. I would like to know from Senator Johnson whether the proposed new section amounts to a general prohibition of advertising of betting houses. I would also like to know, on the construction of the section, whether it would prevent the betting-man——

All that would come in the course of the discussion, and that is why I think it is necessary to have the Bill recommitted.

I support the proposal to recommit the Bill.

I do not think the whole Bill should be recommitted. I think it would be quite sufficient if the sections of the Bill to which amendments are to be moved were recommitted.

My intention was that the Bill should be recommitted only in regard to the proposed amendments, but for fear something might arise out of the discussion that would require perhaps some slight amendment in another section I think it would be better if the Bill as a whole were recommitted. I do not intend to raise any questions other than those of which I have given notice.

Question: "That the Bill be recommitted"—put and declared lost.

The proposed new section is really intended to place the position of the betting houses in the position they would have been in were we only simply licensing places and persons instead of allowing them illegally to conduct their business on the streets. The clearly expressed intention of the Minister, and I think of the Oireachtas, was that the change to be made was a change from street betting, where the practice could not be controlled, to the licensing of betting in houses where the practice could be controlled. It was not designed to increase the number of bets with a view to assisting the Exchequer. I do not know whether the Minister intended that the change from unlicensed illegal betting to betting in a licensed house was intended to give freedom to advertise the fact that bets could be taken in a particular house. I think I am right in saying that there was no such expressed intention when the original Act was going through. But what will happen if the Bill passes in its present form is that all restrictions upon advertising which were contained in the previous Betting Acts will be removed in respect to licensed houses.

A combination of the provisions in the 1853 Act and the 1874 Act is embodied in this new section. Section 7 of the Act of 1853 provided that "any person exhibiting or publishing or causing to be exhibited or published any placard, handbill, card, writing, sign, or advertisement whereby it shall be made to appear that any house, office or room or place is kept open or used for the purposes of making bets or wagers," and so on, would on conviction be liable to the penalties set out in the section. That was extended in the 1874 Act to a person advertising that he was willing to give information regarding bets or to act as a commission agent in regard to bets or that he was prepared to invite any person to make or take a share in a bet or wager. The law then was that it was illegal for a man to advertise that he had a place at which to take bets. We altered that and attempted to transfer betting on the street to betting in houses, the houses to be licensed as well as the persons taking bets. I submit that we did not deliberately intend to leave it open to the bookmaker to advertise the fact that he was prepared to lay odds on or against in a house. There was no suggestion that there should be an advertising or publicity campaign in respect to betting houses.

Though that was not the intention, at any rate it is a fact that it is no longer an offence for a licensed bookmaker to advertise the fact that he is prepared to bet at his particular premises. It is no longer an offence for him to issue circulars and send out advertisements, in the way that shopkeepers send out advertisements for sales, saying that he is prepared to make bets at a particular place on a particular race. That is no longer illegal because we have enacted that the Betting Houses Acts shall not apply to registered premises, and it is in those Acts that the prohibition as to the advertising and circularising of betting houses is contained. If we do not put in a provision such as this then that will no longer be an illegal thing. Since the 1930 Act it is not an offence for a bookmaker to advertise widely and in any manner he wishes the fact that he is prepared to make bets in particular premises.

The object of the new section is to make it an offence for a betting-man to advertise the fact that he is prepared to make bets in particular premises. If we only intended, and I think that is what the House understood, to transfer the practice of betting from the street to licensed premises, then we should insert some such clause as this in the Bill. If we now desire to go further and say that not only shall a man be free to bet, but that he shall be free to advertise in any way he wishes, through the newspapers, the post, by circular, or with a placard on a hoarding, that he in his particular premises which are licensed is prepared to take bets, and that he is free to do it, and if we go further and extend, as the Minister suggests, the licensing charges, by that means reducing the number of licensed premises, the corollary is and will be that the better off and richer bookmakers will use these advertising facilities not merely to attract such bets to come to their premises, but to stimulate the practice of betting. The idea of this prohibition that I am seeking to insert is to limit the stimulus to bet, to restrict, as far as possible, advertising or publicity methods in connection with betting-houses.

Mr. Comyn rose.


Is the amendment seconded?

I am not seconding it, but if it is necessary I will second itpro forma. My difficulty about this new section is that I do not think it will carry out the intention which Senator Johnson has in mind, and it was for that reason that I intervened earlier. I would like to have a full discussion of this section. If other Senators wish to assist in the discussion I shall be very much relieved, because it seems to me that the construction of the section as it stands is this: a licensed bookmaker can advertise in the newspapers and in other ways, but he cannot advertise immediately outside his own premises. That is the meaning that lawyers will put on this section.

That is the intention.

The intention of the Senator is that a licensed betting-man can advertise openly in the public Press and elsewhere?

That is not the intention of the Senator, then?

I expressed my intentions when moving the amendment.

As I read the amendment, in order to constitute an offence you must have two factors. You must first "write, print or publish." That is one factor. The second factor is "and circulate or permit to be circulated any such advertisement or circular outside of any registered premises." What I would submit for the consideration of Senators is this: that in order to secure a conviction under Senator Johnson's amendment, if it is made law, you should prove two things. You should prove that he writes, prints or publishes, and, secondly, that he circulates or permits to be circulated any such advertisement or circular outside any registered premises. I direct the attention of Senators, and particularly my friend Senator Brown, to the section in view of what I have said.

Would the Senator define the meaning of the word "outside?"

The word "outside" presents another difficulty. I do not suppose that any judge would say that "outside" is used there in contradistinction to "inside." Outside the premises may be any place all over the world, but a reasonable view to take of it would be immediately outside. That could be easily amended. Certainly the point raised by Senator Fanning raises another objection to the section. I think this section does not carry out the intention that Senator Johnson has in mind. On the contrary, I think it negatives the whole purpose he has in view. For that reason I was in favour of recommitting the Bill. If the Bill cannot be recommitted, and if the amendment cannot be altered, I am opposed to it.

I think this amendment does go too far. As far as I know, before the Betting Act of 1926 was passed, a betting-man carrying on a credit business could advertise. He could advertise the fact that he carried on a betting business, but not that people would come to bet with him on the premises. Now we have brought credit betting and cash betting into the one premises, and I do not see that there is any reason why we should refuse to allow a man to advertise. As far as I know, there has been no suggestion that any ill-effects have followed from advertising. I do not think that Irish bookmakers advertise to any great extent at all. There may be an occasional advertisement, and you may have the sending out of price lists to regular customers.

So far as young people are concerned the Betting and Loans (Infants) Act, 1892 is fairly prohibitive. People are prohibited under that Act from "sending or causing to be sent to infants any circular, notice, letter, telegram or other document which invites, or may reasonably be implied to invite, the person receiving it to make any bet or wager, or enter into or take any share or interest in any betting or wagering transaction." I think that is really all that is required. Everyone knows that the betting shops are there. Everyone knows that they will accept bets, and I do not see that there is any good reason for going the length of saying that they are not to advertise. If there had been some abuse in connection with it during the period the Act has been in operation there might be some support for the amendment, but I have not heard that there has been any.

I put this amendment down because I thought there was a clear departure from the intentions of the original Act in favour of advertising and circularising. I am very conscious of the fact that the drafting of amendments of this kind is an art and science, and that the ordinary layman is not competent to express his meaning in legal terms. That was one of the reasons why I thought it was desirable to have the Bill recommitted for the consideration of these amendments. I think it is a pity that in the last Act we have extended the liberty to advertise, even though up to the moment it may not have been taken undue advantage of. One never knows how soon someone will rise to the importance of publicity. We have Ministers attending publicity conferences, and we have great advocacy on the value and virtue of publicity. Some of these days some of our bookmakers may take the hint and start a campaign of advertising, which they will be perfectly free to do.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment 3:—

New section. Before Section 27 to insert a new section as follows:—

27.—(1) It shall not be lawful for the registered proprietor to employ or use the services of any member of his family or other person under the age of eighteen years as clerk or assistant in the business carried on in the registered premises.

(2) A registered proprietor who employs or uses the services of any member of his family or other person under the age of eighteen years as clerk or assistant in the business carried on in the registered premises shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding twenty-five pounds or at the discretion of the court to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.

I suppose we are all agreed that the atmosphere of the betting shop is not a wholesome one for the young. That is recognised by the original Act, Section 23 of which makes it an offence to make a bet with any person under 18, while Section 28 implies that it is unlawful to employ a clerk or an assistant who is under 18. Section 28 does not make the employment of the clerk or assistant who is under 18 an offence. It simply implies that it is not lawful to do it. We lawyers know that you cannot create an offence by implication, so that it is perfectly lawful at present under the existing Act to employ a clerk or an assistant under 18. The present Bill does not create any penalty for that, and therefore it is not an offence which you can put down by a penalty. It is implied by Section 28 and ought to be made an offence. It ought also to be an offence to employ in a betting shop, even without paying wages to them, members of the licensed person's family who are under 18. The exclusion of the young from the atmosphere of the betting shop is a thing we ought to do our best to bring about. That is the object of the amendment.

I really do not know what we are doing in relation to this Betting Bill. Our moral sense seems to be running in streaks. In the first place it is quite permissible for a betting man to bring up his family in the licensed premises. Now we are asked to prevent him from employing his son or daughter to help him.

Under 18.

Or over 18.

Of course the little children can be crawling about the betting shop and grow up there to the age of 10, 12 or 15. The father need not have any more than one room to live in and carry on his betting business. The children can be there according to the terms of the Betting Bill, as I understand it. He is not entitled to ask his grown up son to help him until he becomes 18 years of age. I think the thing is a little unreasonable. We ought to have our moral sense pruned down so that it would look a little reasonable.

So that you could not see it.

I think it ought to be reasonable, and, therefore, I am opposed to the amendment.

I do not know whether the purpose of Senator Brown's amendment is not met in the Bill as far as it can reasonably be met. Section 23 provides:—

No registered proprietor of registered premises shall permit any person under the age of eighteen years (other than persons ordinarily resident on such premises and officers of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs entering such premises in the course of their duty as such officers) to enter or be on such premises.

Later it is permitted that certain people may be employed as assistants even though they are under 18. The position, therefore, I think, is sufficiently covered by the Bill except as regards the members of the bookmaker's family. No person except those ordinarily resident on the premises can enter them. In fact, only his own family can be there if he is a bookmaker in a small way in a country town and lives in the house in which the betting business is carried on. The ordinary bookmaker in Dublin has a shop somewhere. A great number of them do not actually live in or over the premises, and, therefore, their children could not come on to the premises at all. They are excluded in the same way as all other children. We have only to deal with cases where children live on and are about the premises. It is doubtful whether there would be any particular advantage in saying that they are not actually to be employed in the business. They are running about where the business is going on, and I do not know that it will make any difference to them. I think that is the only point.

It might be difficult to prevent employment after hours. There might be an anxiety on the part of employees to do tots or, as some one might suggest, alter the dockets for the purpose of the revenue returns.


Senator Brown raised a point about the absence of a penalty.

There is a penalty set out in Section 23.


The Senator pointed out that the absence of a penalty was a serious defect.

I think there is a penalty.

Section 28 implies that it is unlawful.

We prohibit a person entering.

There is a prohibition against entering the premises.

Section 28 says:—

In addition and without prejudice to any provision of this Act permitting a licensed bookmaker to employ an assistant, it shall be lawful for the registered proprietor of registered premises to employ in those premises such clerks and assistants (being persons who are of or over the age of eighteen years....)

Section 29 prevents any person under eighteen years going into a betting office.

Section 23 prohibits betting with persons under the age of eighteen. Sub-section (3) of that section states:—

Every person who does any act (whether of commission or omission) which is a contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds.

That, of course, refers to persons not members of the bookmaker's own family and ordinarily resident on the premises.

But a clerk might be ordinarily resident on the premises.

Section 29 prevents his entering unless he is a member of the family.

The expression is "ordinarily resident on such premises."

The Senator has not read Section 29 at all.

I thought I had.

I agree with the Minister. We have sanctioned this betting; we know it is being done and that it is being talked about in the home. We realise that it is rife and that it is a terrible waste of national effort, and now we try to stop these tiny little chinks. The whole thing is totally out of proportion and I might say it is almost a hypocrisy of modern legislation.

The Minister has spoken of the small bookmakers' premises in the country, and he indicated that it would be unjust and unfair to license a man's house in which his family lived or prevent his employing his sons or daughters in the premises. The Minister indicates the difficulty by suggesting the size of the house. There is a limit as to suitability. It must be a house, and, if it is in the country, it must have a valuation of not less than £10. In the county borough of Dublin it must have a valuation of not less than £15. In the case of premises situated in any other county borough or the borough of Dun Laoghaire it must have a valuation of not less than £10, and premises situated elsewhere must have a valuation of not less than £5. I take it that it is not a tenement that the Minister has in mind. If one can conceive a one-room tenement with a valuation of not less than £5, then there is no power in the hands of the authorities to object on the grounds of suitability. No matter how small or unsatisfactory the apartment may be as a betting premises, if it is valued at £5 in the country there is no right to object. There seems to be good reason for supporting Senator Brown's contention that in such premises where a family must live and carry on business as well the prohibition against employing any member of the family should be substantiated by a penalty.

Amendment put and negatived.

I beg to move amendment 4:

Section 30, sub-section (1). To delete the word "two" in line 55 and to substitute therefor the word "one."

Perhaps this amendment will be passed, because it attempts to reduce the penalty.

I beg to second the amendment.


It is accepted by the Minister, and if the Minister accepts it I am sure the House will.

I was afraid the House might object to it.

The House accepts it.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment 5 is a Government amendment. It is as follows:—

New section. Before Section 32 to insert a new section as follows:—

32.—(1) Save as is otherwise provided by this section, it shall not be lawful for any person to write, print, publish or knowingly circulate any advertisement, circular or coupon advocating or inviting or otherwise relating to betting on football games or knowingly to cause or procure, or attempt to cause or procure, any such advertisement, circular or coupon to be written, printed, published or circulated.

(2) Nothing in this section shall render it unlawful for the registered proprietor of registered premises to have and distribute in such premises any advertisement, circular, or coupon relating to the business of bookmaking carried on in such premises (whether in respect of football games or any other event) or for any person to write or print any such advertisement, circular, or coupon for such registered proprietor.

(3) Every person who does any act which is a contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof, in the case of a first offence, to a fine not exceeding twenty-five pounds or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding one month and, in the case of a second or any subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding three months.

I got this section prepared in an attempt to meet certain views expressed in the House on a previous stage in relation to football betting. It enables the bookmaker to have coupons printed, if he so wishes, to hand to those who may want to use that particular system of betting. It does not mean that people must mark the coupons on the premises. It prevents the wholesale sending out of them, and it prevents anything that could be regarded as damaging to sport of this nature. A certain amount of this betting goes on, and I do not think that anything can stop it. There will be, perhaps, a tendency to have it done with firms across the water, if it is not allowed to be done here. Of course, a great deal of the betting is on teams that actually play across the water.

I beg to second the amendment.

I hope the Minister will take into consideration that this amendment may cause a good deal of overcrowding and loitering. It forces persons anxious to bet to go to the betting shops in order to get coupons. That is a thing we should try to avoid. I think the effect of the amendment would be, that in order to prevent himself breaking the law by having his premises overcrowded, the bookmaker will risk sending out the coupons through the medium of individuals. I suggest that it may turn out to be a case of the law being honoured more in the breach than in the observance. There is also this point, that our own bookmakers will be handicapped. The British bookmakers will continue to circularise our people. If an individual wants to have a bet, and if he has the slightest fear that there may be some trouble in the case of his local bookmaker, he will get in touch with British bookmakers. I think this Bill is already pretty well amended, and this amendment that has now been suggested will not do much good. I suggest the Minister should allow the Bill to go through as it stands.


There is an amendment in the name of Senator Hooper Is any Senator prepared to move it?

I am not prepared to move it, but I would like to explain the position as it appears to me. The question arises as to what is the value of the word "distribute" on the second line of sub-section (2). If I could be assured that there is no risk of using that word as a cover for distributing in large numbers, I would feel satisfied. It may happen that a person is able to take out 100 coupons and use them in the place in which he works. If the word "distribute" will allow that, then I think Senator Hooper's amendment should be inserted. If I could feel assured that the word "distribute" implies only distributing to an individual a single coupon, I think that the Minister's proposal would cover most of what is needed. I feel that the essence of this whole amendment and also of Senator Hooper's amendment, depends on the value of the word "distribute."

Is this amendment of Senator Hooper's supposed to be an amendment to what has been proposed by the Minister?


That is so.

I am in favour of this amendment. The only doubt I have is the one that obviously occurred to Senator Hooper's mind. I think in all probability—I am not sure that I would go further than that—that any court would hold that if a registered proprietor gave 50 of these coupons or advertisements, or whatever you like to call them, to a man and let him go out of his house, that would be regarded as distributing them elsewhere than on his premises. It is a somewhat doubtful question. I think the section as it stands will probably do what the Minister wants, but perhaps it is no harm to make it certain.

For the sake of order I will move Senator Hooper's amendment. It is as follows:—

After the word "premises" in line 3 of sub-section (2) to insert the words "for use only in such premises."


Have you Senator Hooper's permission?

He does permit me.

I beg to second the amendment.

As to the word "distribute," I think it is a little doubtful, but I do not think it could be held to confine the bookmaker to giving out only single coupons to any individual. It is one of the things nobody could be sure about until it is tested in court. The consensus of opinion that I was able to get from the legal point of view is that if a man gave small numbers of coupons to various people he would still be within the word "distribute." On the other hand, if he gave a great quantity to an individual he would not be distributing.

There is no doubt about it.

That is what I would desire the position to be. I recognise there is a good deal of force in what Senator Robinson said. If you could prevent wholesale circularising, then you would have done all that we want to do. On the other hand, if you enable someone who wants coupons to go and get them for himself and his pals, I think that is all right; it is the best way to have the thing. If you confine a man to giving out single copies to individuals you are undoubtedly going to have this difficulty of overcrowding of premises and loitering, and perhaps you will do more harm than good. You may have coupons dealing with English bookmakers and this prevents the evils anticipated by Senators on the last day. I was not so very keen on making the provision at all, but I found it urged from various quarters of the House. I think a good deal of this discussion in the House was with reference to another sort of coupon altogether, a coupon which is bought for sixpence and which is at present illegal, although I have no doubt it is being utilised.

I am in favour of the Minister's amendment and I am opposed to Senator Hooper's amendment simply because it is unworkable. Anybody who knows anything about football coupon betting is aware that men do not go individually into bookmakers' offices to get these coupons. One man collects a number of coupons and distributes them amongst his colleagues in the workshop. In most of the large industries in Dublin those coupons obtained from the bookmakers are given round regularly every week, or else large numbers of private coupons organised by the work people themselves—and, of course, that altogether is illegal—are circulated. If Senator Hooper's amendment is accepted it will be unworkable. There is no use in making a statute that you cannot carry out. Under Senator Hooper's amendment each individual who wants to have a coupon bet on a football match will have to go to the bookmaker's office and collect his single coupon. The amendment would prevent one man collecting 50 or 60 coupons and distributing them amongst his colleagues. I say that amendment is unworkable, and it is unwise to pass an Act of Parliament that we cannot carry out.

I agree with Senator Farren, but I cannot say that I have the same reasons for opposing Senator Hooper's amendment. Senator Farren purports to understand what the law would be if Senator Hooper's amendment were accepted. I do not profess to know how the law would stand if Senator Hooper's amendment were accepted, because I think it would be incapable of being understood. The best way to bring it to a test is this. If the amendment were passed the section would read:—

Nothing in this section shall render it unlawful for the registered proprietor of registered premises to have and distribute in such premises for use only in such premises any advertisement, circular or coupon...

It seems to me that an advertisement, a circular or a coupon is not for use in the premises, and it would be very, very hard to put any sort of a sensible construction upon that section if Senator Hooper's amendment were accepted.


Who could possibly determine it?

Nobody. It is for that reason that I am opposed to the amendment.

It would have to be left to the common-sense of the court."

I agree with Senator Farren that we should not pass any law here that cannot be understood and carried out.

I would like to suggest to the Minister that the case is met by sub-section (1) of the amendment. I think we should do everything possible to prevent any attempt to sabotage the possible development of athletics in this country. I know of no more destructive element than betting on games. I have reason to know that the failure of athletics in the past was due largely to the betting influence on various games. The effort to drive that influence away was followed by a great development in the Gaelic Athletic Association. Through determined action on their part they have prevented as far as they could do so any gambling on athletic events under the G.A.A. rules. In that way they have managed to keep the games clean and healthy.

There are large numbers of people very keenly interested in the development of athletics in this country, and already we see the fruits of their efforts in the athletic field. If we do not use our influence and power to prevent gambling on athletic events, then the efforts of these people will not bear fruit. I believe every possible obstacle should be put in the way of gambling on athletic events.

I do not believe that betting on athletic events in this country is overdone. A couple of men who go to see a football match may wish to have a bet amongst themselves. It is just the same as some members of this House desiring to have a bet on political events.

And they pay no tax on it.

With regard to the football coupon betting, whole lists of different teams, mostly British teams, as far as I can make out, are distributed. A man comes along and gives so many guesses as to the probable winners. How that can affect athletics in Ireland I cannot see. The bookmaker has not the faintest knowledge of how his book will balance until the very last minute. It certainly could not be much use to him to send over a fiver to make a team lose a game.


I will put Senator Hooper's amendment.

Amendment put and negatived.

Is the Minister quite satisfied that his amendment is really worth while? Has it any good effect?

I submitted this amendment to meet the views of the House. The Bill went through the Dáil simply repealing the Ready Money Football Betting Act, and placing no restrictions on coupons. One or two members in the Dáil said there should be some restrictions on coupons, but no amendment was moved. There was a stronger feeling expressed in the Seanad, and, in an attempt to meet it, I put down this amendment, which limits the thing to some extent. Personally I have no very strong feeling on the necessity for limiting it, and I think most Senators who spoke strongly against coupons were thinking of a different sort of coupon which is already illegal. To some extent the debate was carried on under a misapprehension. I do not believe this particular kind of betting on football can do any harm. I think it is a most innocuous form of betting.

Senator Robinson stated that most of the betting is on cross-Channel games. Up to now that was the fact. The secretary of the Football Association and some of the leaders of the G.A.A. have spoken to me since the last discussion here, and they urged that we should not, if possible, allow what has hitherto been confined to British games in the main, but what has now begun to be applied to Irish games. They are anxious that we should prevent as far as we possibly can any chance of this habit extending. I think the Minister's amendment will do something in that direction, and I will support it.

I have always held that the introduction of betting on football games was one of the most mischievous things that ever occurred in the athletic world. Betting on racing is quite an old and legitimate practice, but betting on football matches is viewed by a good deal of our country clubs and players as a most mischievous element to introduce into the realm of sport. Betting on football and hurling matches should be debarred as far as possible. I have a son who is an all-Ireland football champion, and he and I, and I am sure many others, would like to see the game carried on without anything in the nature of betting being allowed. I think there are very many people who disapprove of betting on football and hurling matches. As regards other games, people may bet to their heart's content. I strongly support the suggestion that no betting should be allowed on football or hurling matches.

Amendment put and declared carried.
Amendments 6 and 7 not moved.
Report Stage concluded.
Fifth stage ordered for Wednesday, 8th July.