Committee Reports::Final Report - Betting Act 1926, and the Law relating to the Business of Bookmaking::21 November, 1928::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Dé Céadaoin, 21adh Mí na Samhna, 1928.

(Wednesday, 21st November, 1928.)

The Joint Committee met at 4 p.m.

Members Present:





A. Byrne.


B. R. Cooper.


P. S. Doyle.


S. MacEntee.






P. Shaw.




1. The Chairman read the reference to the Committee as follows:—“That a Joint Committee of seven members of the Dáil and seven members of the Seanad be appointed to consider the working of the Betting Act, 1926, and to report what amendments of the existing law relating to the business of bookmaking are desirable.”

Deputy Cooper.—I should like to suggest that it is not desirable that this Committee should sit when the Dáil or Seanad is sitting, because it would be inconvenient to Deputies and Senators, inconvenient to the reporters and probably inconvenient to the Press. While I would not suggest that we should not hear General O’Duffy now, I would suggest that the Committee should not take evidence in future while the Dáil or Seanad is sitting.

Chairman.—Have the meetings in the morning?

Deputy Cooper.—Yes.

Chairman.—We will fix the next meeting when we adjourn to-day.

General Eoin O’Duffy (Commissioner of the Gárda Síóchána) called and examined.

2. Chairman.—Would the Committee like to go through the Act section by section?

Senator Molloy.—I suggest that it would be better to hear a general statement from General O’Duffy as to the working of the Act, whether it is good or harmful, and that he should give us his view where he has come to the conclusion that it is harmful and requires amendment?

3. Chairman.—General O’Duffy knows what information we want. Each member of the Committee may ask General O’Duffy for information. There are a number of sections in the Act that have nothing to do with the Gárda Síochána.

General O’Duffy.—Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I propose, with your permission, to give you a very short resumé of the law previous to the passing of the Act of 1926, and I propose to explain, so far as I can, from the police point of view, the advantages and disadvantages of the Act of 1926 and our considered opinion as regards amendments. I should say that during the past summer I visited practically all the counties in the Saorstát, and I took the opinion of various officers on the working of the Act; and what I intend to say to you is the considered opinion of the Gárda Síochána. I have not prepared a memo, for distribution, but I hope to do so later on when I know exactly what you may require; but I have with me some notes of headings and also some statistics which I think will be interesting and useful.

Previous to 1926 betting was prohibited except on race courses, under the following Acts—the Gaming Act of 1845; the Betting Acts of 1853 and 1874; the Street Betting Act of 1906; and the Ready Money Football Betting Act of 1920.

4. Chairman.—At the present moment do you take any notice of these Acts?— Yes. All these Acts are presently in force, and we have had a number of prosecutions under these Acts. A gaming house was defined under the Act of 1845 as “a place where people are invited habitually for the purpose of playing an unlawful game—i.e., a game of chance in which a bank is kept by one or more of the players exclusively of the others, or any game the chances of which are not alike favourable to all.” That is the definition of the Act of 1845. Under the Act of 1853 a betting house was defined as “a place used for betting with persons resorting thereto or for receiving deposits on bets for ready money betting.” And every gaming house was considered a betting house for the purposes of the Act. Under these Acts, the Gaming Act of 1845 and the Betting Act of 1853, it was necessary for the police to secure a warrant on a sworn information before a justice that they had suspicions that gaming or betting was being transacted in a certain place. That warrant authorised the police to enter such a house by force if necessary, to search the place, search and arrest all persons found in the house and bring them before a justice, and seize all papers, documents, tables and cash found in the house, and the penalty was a fine not exceeding £100 or six months’ imprisonment. In 1874 a further Betting Act was passed prohibiting advertising by letter or circular or telegram any information which might induce others to bet or wager, and prohibiting the supplying of information or advice regarding a race or prize fight or anything of that nature. Further prohibitive legislation was introduced in the Street Betting Act of 1906. We regard it from the point of view of betting as one of the most important Acts passed at that time. It made it an offence for any person to frequent or loiter in the streets or in a public place except a racecourse on the day of a race, for the purpose of bookmaking or betting on his own behalf or on behalf of another. The police were given further powers under that Act. They were authorised to arrest without a warrant any person found committing an offence under the Act in a public place, and to seize all books, slips, etc. And the penalties were, for the first offence a fine not to exceed £10 without imprisonment; for the second offence a fine not to exceed £20 without imprisonment; and for the third and subsequent offences a fine not to exceed £50 or six months’ imprisonment. There was a special provision under that Act which made it a very serious offence to carry out a betting transaction with a person under sixteen years of age. Any person carrying out a betting transaction with any person under sixteen years of age could be fined £50 or six months’ imprisonment. There is a special clause dealing with the protection of youth in that regard. In 1920 a further enactment was passed designed to prevent the writing, printing, publishing or circulation of advertisements or coupons relative to ready-money football betting business, that is, any agency for making ready-money bets in connection with a football game. The penalty for a first offence was a fine not to exceed £25 or one month’s imprisonment, and the penalty for the second or subsequent offences a fine not to exceed £100 or three months’ imprisonment. This shows that so far as legislation at least was concerned every effort was made to prohibit betting in every form except on a racecourse. I cannot say how far it was effective. There were frequent prosecutions for keeping betting houses and for street betting, and usually when these cases were brought to the court very heavy penalties were imposd by the magistrates, but they had not very much effect. A great many people who frequented racecourses as bookmakers had common betting houses in their own homes or in some place convenient best known to themselves, and many publicans also carried on betting transactions. The fear of a prosecution was not much of a deterrent, as they had some arrangement whereby they were able to recoup themselves from their clients later on. The immediate effect of the Act of 1926 was to stop all that sort of thing. The gaming house and the betting house and street betting almost entirely disappeared, and the people who frequented these places now prefer to go to the registered bookmaker; they think he is a safer man to deal with. So far as the police are concerned, we think that the principal advantage of the 1926 legislation is that we have no more illegal betting, or at least practically no more.

5. Chairman.—Street betting is practically dead, I take it?—Yes. The great weakness of the 1926 Act, in the considered opinion of the Gárdaí, is that it provides no penalties for failing to conduct premises in a proper manner. The most that the Gárdaí can do is to observe what is happening, and to wait for twelve months, and at the expiration of that period the Superintendent may refuse to renew the bookmaker’s certificate. The bookmaker may carry on as he likes in the meantime. Bookmakers have been cautioned, but the cautions have had no effect; they carried on as they wished. If the Superintendent refuses a certificate an appeal lies to the District Court. The bookmaker has twenty-one days to make up his mind whether he should appeal or not. The District Court may confirm the decision of the Superintendent or it may not, but in the meantime the Revenue Commissioners may issue a temporary licence to enable the bookmaker to continue. The abuse still continues. If the bookmaker is not satisfied with the decision of the District Justice he may appeal further to the High Court on a Case Stated, as has happened already in Dublin. That appeal may not be heard perhaps for a period of six months. We have had one case pending six months and other cases pending three or four months. In the meantime the position is that the police are rather helpless. As the law is at present a bookmaker can hold out any inducement to the public to enter his premises. They have sandwich-board men parading outside and encouraging people to go in and have a bet. The bookmaker may permit overcrowding and disorderly conduct. Betting in fifty per cent. of the booking-offices in Dublin is conducted as on a race-course. In other words, the names of the horses are written up on a black-board, the names are called out, the odds are called, the result of the race is announced by telephone, and payments are made after the result. There are sporting sheets and literature prominently displayed, and generally every inducement to gamble is held out. The result is that a frequenter of one of these places, if he wins in the first race, remains to try and double or treble his winnings; if he loses, he remains to see if he can recover his losses. That state of affairs continues. We know that workmen on Saturdays remain in these booking-offices—they are called offices, but I think they should be called saloons; it was intended by the Legislature that they should be merely offices where a man could go in and register a bet and then leave—but these unfortunate workingmen remain there until their last penny is gone. What I say now is not of general application. It applies to the poorer parts of the cities, where bets of sixpence and one shilling are accepted. It is very common to see women with children in their arms and with perambulators, and boys and girls under sixteen years of age, and numbers of unemployed waiting for hours for the result of a race. We know that the 1926 legislation is responsible for a great increase in juvenile betting and gambling. Newsboys, we know, collect sixpence by getting a penny a boy or a penny a man as they say from one another to raise the amount corresponding to sixpence or a shilling and they put that on a horse— they have no idea about the horse—and if they do win they divide the spoils afterwards. We know, too, that children living in the country and who go to school in the town are very often engaged, perhaps by their parents or by others, to bring in bets to the bookmakers and bring back the result; and we know, too, that apprentices and others engaged in shops are sent by their employers or by senior hands to transact bets for them. The police report—and this is general—is that juvenile crime, that is, petty larceny, has increased very considerably during the past two years. We attribute that to betting, and in Dublin we attribute it largely to this new form of sport— electric greyhound racing—about which I shall have something to say later on. So far as we can see the gambling spirit is developing, and we feel that the minds of the youth are being distracted from their work or from their study. As I said already, it was not the intention of the Legislature that these booking offices should become saloons capable of holding 300 to 500 people. Some of the bookmakers boast that they have saloons capable of holding 500 persons. These places are crowded during the whole afternoon. There is a regular din of shouting, and the language that the police have heard is not always edifying; it certainly is not language that it is desirable that women and children in their tender years should hear. The topic of conversation around these booking saloons is gambling, and there is no talk about athletics or any other form of manly sports; and if that position should continue I fear it will have very serious results so far as the physical development of our race is concerned. The Act of 1926 is mainly an Excise enactment. We look upon it as mainly an Excise enactment. We have had no prosecutions under the Act of 1926. We cannot have any at present; but I will make suggestions which would enable us to have prosecutions in future. In the country districts generally there are not very many abuses. But betting has extended to the poorer portions of the urban districts; it has not extended to any great extent to the farming community. The worst offenders, apart from children and women —I would not say that they are the worst offenders, but it is unfortunate that they should offend at all—the worst offenders are people in receipt of unemployment benefit. The abuses that I have referred to are very general in Dublin; they apply to perhaps fifty per cent. of the bookmakers in the city. As regards statistics I can tell you the number of licensed bookmakers and registered premises in each of the cities and counties of the Saorstát. I hope to prepare a memo, when I get back, and I will send sufficient numbers to circulate among the members of the Committee. In Dublin City we have 220 licensed bookmakers and 186 registered premises; in Cork City, 23 licensed bookmakers and 25 registered premises; in Limerick City, 12 licensed bookmakers and 11 registered premises; in County Carlow, 7 licensed bookmakers and 12 registered premises; in County Kildare, 23 licensed bookmakers and 23 registered premises;; in County Cavan, 2 licensed bookmakers and 2 registered premises; in County Monaghan, 8 licensed bookmakers and 8 registered premises; in County Clare, 4 licensed bookmakers and 4 registered premises; in Cork (excluding the city), 17 licensed bookmakers and 13 registered premises; in County Donegal, 4 licensed bookmakers and 3 registered premises; in Dublin (excluding city), 13 licensed bookmakers and 11 registered premises; in County Wicklow, 14 licensed bookmakers and 15 registered premises; in County Galway, 13 licensed bookmakers and 13 registered premises; in County Kerry, 6 licensed bookmakers and 7 registered premises; in Kilkenny, 6 licensed bookmakers and 11 registered premises; in Leix, 10 licensed bookmakers and 8 registered premises; in Offaly, 6 licensed bookmakers and 7 registered premises; in Limerick (excluding the city), 3 licensed bookmakers and 3 registered premises; in County Longford, 3 licensed bookmakers and 3 registered premises; in Westmeath, 10 licensed bookmakers and 11 registered premises: in Louth, 19 licensed bookmakers and 23 registered premises—there are two very big towns in the county, Dundalk and Drogheda, and that would account for the numbers; in Meath there are 10 licensed bookmakers and 12 registered premises; in Mayo, 12 licensed bookmakers and 11 registered premises; in Roscommon, 4 licensed bookmakers and 5 registered premises; in Sligo, 3 licensed bookmakers and 4 registered premises; in Leitrim, ill licensed bookmaker and 1 registered premises; in Tipperary, which is also a very large county, there are 20 licensed bookmakers and 19 registered premises; in Waterford (including the city) there are 28 licensed bookmakers and 29 registered premises; and in Wexford, 16 licensed bookmakers and 16 registered premises, making a total of 517 licensed bookmakers and 496 registered premises in the State. The number changes from day to day. It will be seen from these figures that by far the greater number carry on business in the cities and large towns. In towns with a population, say, of 3,000 the average number of bookmakers would be 2. Some may have 3 or 4, but the average is about 2. It is very rarely that we have a bookmaker in a village. The tendency is to concentrate in the big towns where there are greater opportunities for business. The number of persons who are registered proprietors of two or more premises is roughly fifty. The Revenue Authorities can supply the exact figures. During the past year there were seventeen prosecutions by the Gárda for offences in relation to betting under the Acts of 1853 to 1906. There were thirteen convictions and fines amounting to £45 7s. 6d were imposed. These prosecutions were for loitering in public for the purpose of taking bets. There were no prosecutions under the Act of 1926 taken by the Gárda. Prosecutions under that Act were in all cases taken by the Revenue Commissioners, and I presume they will supply you with particulars of the Revenue returns. The police do not get particulars of the prosecutions undertaken by the Revenue Commissioners themselves. It is purely a Revenue Act. The total number of bookmakers’ certificates of personal fitness refused by the Gárda is fifty-five. The majority of these applications were refused under Section 4 (e). (Quotes sub-section (e)):—

“That the applicant is by reason of his general character or his known habits not a fit person to hold a book-maker’s licence.”

The majority of our refusals were under that sub-section. We found it rather difficult to determine what “general character” and “known habits” meant; and we ask that these words be defined. That is one of our recommendations. We consider that any person who is guilty of an offence under Section 8 (i) of the Act should be refused a certificate under Section 4 (e), that is, that a bookmaker who allows people to congregate and loiter in large numbers in his premises should come under Section (4) (e) of the Act. Section 4 states:—

“A certificate of personal fitness may be refused on any one or more of the following grounds and on no other ground whatsoever.”

These words and “on no other ground whatsoever” tie the hands of the Gárda.

6. Chairman.—A man can be a disqualified person as regards betting, but you cannot exclude him from getting a certificate?—Yes. We are tied down. I intend also to go over the sections of the Act and make suggestions as we go along. The majority of cases refused were under that particular Section 4 (e). In five cases the applicants were refused because of non-residence in the Saorstát, and there were a couple of cases under Section 4 (a) in which the applicants had not paid duty to the Revenue authorities. There were forty-one appeals against the fifty-five refusals. Thirty-two of these appeals were successful in the District Court; three were unsuccessful; and six are pending. In the pending cases, of course, the bookmakers are still carrying on. The total number of certificates of suitability of premises refused by the Gárda is seventy-eight. Most of these were refused under Section 8 (i), that is, for allowing people to congregate on the premises. That is the most serious offence. There were five refusals under Section 8 (c), that is, that the premises were in close proximity to a place of worship or a school. There were five refusals under Section 8 (e), that is, that the premises communicated internally with other premises, usually a publichouse. And there were a few refusals under 8 (h), that is, that the applicants had previously been convicted of an offence under the Ready Money Football Betting Act. There were fifty-five appeals against seventy-eight refusals. Thirty-one of these appeals were successful; three were unsuccessful; and twenty-one are pending. Since the passing of the Act 123 bookmakers went out of business. They were either put out of business by the police or they did not seek to renew their certificates.

I come now to the recommendations that we wish to make, and I should say that as regards these recommendations we have not been inspired in any way by the Press. After the conferences that I had over the country I prepared a summary of our views and sent them along to the Department, and they appeared later in the Press. These are the police recommendations, the considered opinion of the police: (1) That betting transactions in betting offices with persons under eighteen years of age be made an offence punishable by severe penalties.

7. Chairman.—That is a recommendation?—Yes.

8. At present, there is no limit?—No limit. A number of the Superintendents suggested twenty-one years of age, but the majority and the Headquarters of the Gárdaí considered that eighteen would be more reasonable. Some suggested that women should be excluded from such places. We do not make that recommendation, but I mention that it was suggested. The second recommendation is that it be an offence for a bookmaker to allow persons under eighteen years of age to remain in his premises and that it be an offence to send a person under eighteen to a betting office. The first recommendation is that betting transactions with children under eighteen should be an offence, and the second, that it should be an offence for a bookmaker to allow a person under eighteen to remain in his office and that it be an offence for a parent or other person to send a person under eighteen with a bet. We think, too, that certain provisions of the licensing laws should be made applicable to bookmakers’ offices. It is an offence for a woman to go into a public house with a child in her arms. We should like to include that provision. There is a good deal of abuse in small betting and we find that the bookmakers who take small bets are guilty of other offences, and we think there should be a limit to the size of the bet. Our recommendation is that the minimum bet should be 2/-. As regards the conduct of booking offices, we recommend that list betting and paying after results be made an offence; and that paying out and settling bets should not be done on the day on which the event to which the bet relates is run. This is the cause of the overcrowding and the loitering in the offices. The bookie gets the result from London and other centres, and he pays down upon that, and the winners get their cash and they will not leave; they are tempted to continue to bet on. That is the greatest evil that we have to contend with. We recommend that the calling out of odds on registered premises be made an offence. The person who is going to bet should have his mind made up before he goes to the office and he should put on his money and then leave. We also recommend that lists of runners, starting prices, sporting sheets and literature should not be exhibited on registered premises. We recommend that it should be an offence for a bookmaker to cause or permit overcrowding or loitering on registered premises. We recommend that it be an offence for persons to loiter or congregate outside registered premises, the police to have power to institute proceedings if necessary by arrest. At present we cannot prevent a person loitering outside registered premises unless some person comes along and proves that he has been obstructed in his free passage. The Summary Jurisdiction Act would not help us in that respect. We recommend that persons in receipt of unemployment benefit or poor law relief should be debarred from betting on registered premises; that their benefits should cease on proof that a betting transaction has been made by them or on their behalf while in receipt of such relief. We recommend that persons who bet with licensed bookmakers should be in a position to recover debts resulting from bets as ordinary debts and vice versa. This security would tend to discourage betting with unqualified bookmakers or in unlawful places. The common betting house is now practically out of existence; and the licensed bookmakers of the better class usually assist the police in discovering common betting houses. We think it would be useful if the law were amended in that respect—that parties could recover debts resulting from bets. These are some of our recommendations. I wish to go over the Act also with you and make other suggestions.

9. Chairman.—I had some questions, but you have practically answered them all. Can a licence be given to a house adjoining a publichouse?—It can, but it is one ground of objection—proximity to a publichouse?

10. But in the Act it does not say that it cannot be given?—No, provided there is no internal communication. We have nothing to say to Sections 1, 2, or 3. As regards Section 4, we consider that the grounds of objection are inadequate, and that the words “on no other ground whatsoever” should go out; because experience will teach us, and even under the amended Act we may see some errors. These words tie us down completely. We should like to produce a more responsible type of bookmaker. Sometimes insolvent people become bookmakers; they come from a class of individuals who have no reputations to lose. They offer inducements to the poor section of the people to indulge in betting with them. We think that there should be a limit to the number of bookmakers, and we think that it should not be greater than the present number. There is no limit presently. We should like to add to Sub-Section (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) the following:—

“(f) evidence of financial circumstances.”

That is, that the applicant would be required to produce some evidence of his financial position. We suggest (g):—

“If previously licensed on proof that applicant has refused to pay bets or money resulting from bets.”

Some of these bookmakers do not pay their lawful debts, and I think that if proof was given to the Superintendent that an applicant had refused to pay debts resulting from bets, that should be a ground of objection. We suggest (h):—

“Less than twelve months’ residence in the Saorstát,”

so that the Gárda and public may know something of his personal character and habits. Men may now come along from the North of Ireland and elsewhere to take out bookmakers’ licences, and if the man fulfils the conditions here we must give it to him. It has been suggested that applicants should be required to produce a certificate or reference from the Turf Club as to suitability. That has been suggested by some of the officers. I do not know how far you would consider that. It has been suggested by some of the officers that applicants should be asked to produce a certificate from the National Hunt Association.

11. Chairman.—Or the Conyngham Club?—Yes. We make that suggestion for the consideration of the Committee. Well then we should like to know do the words “general character” or “known habits” refer to the applicant’s habits and character as a bookmaker, or to his personal character in business. At present we are inclined to think that they refer only to his known habits as a bookmaker; and most of our objections are under that particular sub-head. We should like if that particular section were defined. Section 5 (i) provides for the issue by the Revenue Commissioners of bookmakers’ licences for any period the applicant desires, not exceeding one year. We wish that a certificate should expire on a certain date and that the period should be a year. People chance their luck for a short period and then clear off with the cash. Section 5 (2) deals with excise duties. We consider that the duties should be increased considerably. The duty presently for a bookmaker’s licence is only £10. We recommend £50. With that duty we would get a better type of bookmaker and a smaller number of bookmakers, and we think that it would be in the interest of the more honest bookmakers and of the public. That is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners, but it would help the police considerably. In Section 5 (3) we suggest that in order to prevent fraud and welshing a photo of the holder should be attached to each certificate. We now come to Section 8, dealing with the suitability of licensed premises. There again we should wish the words “and on no other ground whatsoever” to go out. Experience shows us that these specified grounds are not sufficient, and very likely we should have a similar experience in an amended Bill. We have certain additions to make as regards the grounds and certain suggestions to make as regards the existing grounds for the refusal of a certificate of suitability of premises. Sometimes an applicant may be guilty of an offence under the Act and is refused a certificate of suitability of premises. But he employs his son or his cousin or some other agent on his behalf. This man applies to the Gárda and we can offer no objection to him. But he is only nominally the owner of the registered premises. The original bookmaker comes back in the position of assistant or clerk, whereas he is really the bookmaker. We should like that you would do something under that particular section to keep out these men entirely. I should like that the words “disorderly manner” and the words “large numbers” in Section 8 (i) should be defined. Again, it is under that particular sub-section that most of our objections are made. We sometimes find it difficult to convince the Justice what “disorderly manner” means, and what the words “large numbers” mean. A good deal would depend upon the size of the office or saloon.

12. Chairman.—At the present time the Gárda cannot clear out a house for being overcrowded?—No. We should like as an additional ground for disqualification that there are sufficient licensed premises in the area already. In other words, we should like to be in a position to limit the number of registered premises, and one of the grounds of objection would be that there are sufficient premises in the area already. We think that one registered premises for every five thousand of the population would be sufficient. The greater the number of registered premises the more encouragement there is for betting; and the same reasoning applies, I think, as that put forward for the reduction of the number of publichouses. Under Section 9 (1) we suggest an increase in the payment of Excise duty to the Revenue Commissioners. The Excise duty is only £20 for each premises. A man may have several licensed premises and he pays £20 for each. We think that if that were increased to £100 we should have a better type of premises and a smaller number of premises, and that it would be in the better interests of the decent bookmaker and of the public generally. It is rather bad to bring home gambling to the door of every honest member of the community.

13. Senator Molloy.—General O’Duffy has asked us to do something to prevent the brother or the uncle or the grandfather of the disqualified bookmaker being licensed?

General O’Duffy.—No, provided he cleared off himself. We do not wish him to be there as an agent. I have something to say as regards agents and assistants later on. At present anybody can come along.

14. Senator Parkinson.—Under Section 8 (i) would it not prevent over-crowding and everything if you made a recommendation that they close at 1 p.m.?—Yes. I am considering that under Section 16. We find, too, that in the country districts the licensed bookmaker is sometimes a publican. He has his office in a different street to that in which he has the publichouse or perhaps in the same street, but he carries on the betting business in the publichouse. He keeps his books in the publichouse; and that is undesirable. He also has agents or touts in the place, and they take money for him. And we should like it to be made an offence for a bookmaker to commission a person to make, take or enter bets on his behalf. They are not entitled to do it, but it is done irregularly and illegally.

15. Deputy Byrne.—Outside the licensed premises?—Yes, outside entirely.

16. Deputy MacEntee.—Would you go so far as to disqualify a publican also?— Yes, I think so. We then come to Section 10 sub-section (2):—

“Any person to whom a certificate of personal fitness or a certificate of suitability of premises has been refused by a superintendent of the Gárda Síochána may, within twenty-one days after receiving from such superintendent a statement in writing of the grounds of such refusal, appeal in the prescribed manner from such refusal to the district court.

We think that in that case twenty-one days’ notice is rather long. We think that that period should be shortened in as much as a temporary certificate is usually issued by the Revenue Commissioners, and that lasts for seven days after the decision of the district court. If the district court affirms the decision of the superintendent the bookmaker can remain open for seven days afterwards. And a further appeal lies to the High Court on a case stated. In that case six months usually elapses during which time the undesirable bookmaker continues in business.

17. Chairman.—You suggest that the period should be seven days instead of twenty-one days?—Yes. The draftsman would probably have something to say with regard to that. Seven days would be more satisfactory if the draftsman would agree that that period would be suitable as regards procedure. Under sub-section (5) of Section 10 it is provided that “no party except a Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners shall be heard in opposition to the appeal.” We feel that it is a great hardship that the Superintendents cannot call the local sergeant, who knows everything in connection with the case. The bookmaker himself is not limited as to whom he may call, and I think the Superintendent should not be limited either. The Superintendent should be entitled to call any respectable citizen to give evidence, though the evidence we had in mind is that of the sergeant. We now come to Section 12, sub-section (2): “Whenever the registered proprietor of any registered premises is convicted of an offence under any section of this Act in relation to such premises.” We should like to add there the words “or any other Act.” You have them in sub-section (1) of Section 12 as regards the bookmakers, and we should like to have them in sub-section (2) as regards the premises. As regards Section 15, sub-section 4:— “the registered proprietor of any registered premises shall not set up or maintain in such premises any attraction (other than the mere carrying on of his business of bookmaking)”—we should like to introduce there the words “set up or maintain inside or outside such premises any attraction.” At present we have sandwich-board men with placards walking up and down outside offices encouraging people to have a bet.

18. Deputy Cooper.—Would that apply to moving scenes in the window?—I think it would. There should be no attraction.

19. Deputy Cooper.—And photographs of officers in the Army and Air Forces.

General O’Duffy.—As regards Section 16 (1):—

“Registered premises shall not be opened or kept open for the transaction of business at any time on any Sunday, Christmas Day or Good Friday, nor before the hour of nine o’clock in the morning nor after the hour of six o’clock in the afternoon on any other day.”

We should like to change that. In the first instance, we think that at the very least they should be closed during dinner hours, and we should like that the Committee would consider the advisability of closing them between one o’clock and five o’clock, the hours during which racing takes place. Our suggestion is that they can open from ten o’clock to one o’clock and from five o’clock to seven o’clock. We think that after the races are over there would be very little abuse.

20. Deputy Byrne.—Would you not suggest that the registered offices should be closed for cash betting, but that a man who wants to telephone from the race-course ought not to be debarred?— If the public had not access to the office, if he is in the office and the door is closed. I think that the houses ought to be closed for cash betting. Men should go to their work and not wait for the results.

Leaving the house open from two to five o’clock you are inviting men to remain away from work to await the result?—Yes.

But the other point ought to get consideration?—Yes.

A telephone bet during a reasonable period?—Yes; we made it 1 to 2 in order to cover the dinner hours. The usual dinner hour is from one to two.

21. Deputy MacEntee.—A number of people would be engaged in business who would not have an opportunity of betting except during the dinner hour. You are too stringent when you say that the offices should be closed between 1 and 5.

General O’Duffy.—It can cut both ways. It may affect other people. It is a matter for consideration. We recommend that they remain open from ten to one and from five to seven. We now come to Section 19 sub-section (2) which confers certain powers on officers of Customs and Excise. At the present time the Gárda Síochána or officers of Customs and Excise may enter registered premises, but the Gárda Síochána cannot enter unregistered premises when they have suspicions that illegal bookmaking is going on. They have to invoke the Act of 1853, go before a Justice, swear an information, and get a warrant. On that warrant they can act. We think that it is a mistake that similar powers are not conferred on the Gárda as on the Revenue Commissioners as regards common betting houses.

22. Senator Parkinson.—That may be made an excuse for raiding houses. It cuts two ways. A man cannot carry on a big business long anyhow in an unregistered place.

General O’Duffy.—Would it not be as objectionable for the Customs Officers to raid?

23. Senator Parkinson.—We think both should be prevented.

General O’Duffy.—We think it ridiculous that we have to get an information sworn, that we cannot act without going to the Act of 1853 to get a warrant. As regards Section 19, “every person who shall do any of the following things, that is to say …. (d) when his name or his address is demanded of him by any such officer in exercise of a power in that behalf conferred by this Section, fail or refuse to give his name, or fail or refuse to give his address, or give a name or an address which is false or misleading,” we should like to have power to arrest such a person. At the present moment we have not such power.

24. Chairman.—Is not the penalty very small?—The penalty is in the form of a fine. It may not be possible to find the person and bring him to justice. We should have power of arrest. As regards Section 20, dealing with persons employed by bookmakers, we think that section is loose and open to abuse. We think that clerks and assistants should be registered and subject to proper control. Some bookmakers hand over their entire business to assistants or clerks who are undesirable and who, if subject to getting a certificate, would not get it. We think that consideration should be given to the question of the principal assistant or the clerk in a registered office paying something. The amount might be very small, but it should be an offence to act if he did not pay. It is not a matter of cash. In fact, there may be no charge for the certificate, but he should be an approved person.

25. Senator Parkinson.—Would you not recommend that he should hold a licence and pay, say, £5 a year?—We did not consider the question of cash, but that he should fulfil the conditions that the bookmaker himself has to fulfil, that he should have the qualifications of a bookmaker. We are not concerned with the finance. The remainder of the Act deals with the totalisator and with post office offences. These are conducted by the Post Office and the Customs, and we have no records regarding such offences. As regards the recommendations generally, we think that they will not affect the decent bookmaker, and we think, too, that they will not affect the revenue. The better-class bookmakers contribute by far the greater part of the revenue, and our recommendations will not limit their business in any way. We think, too, that some bookmakers take bets of which particulars are not recorded. Somebody comes along and whispers to the bookmaker’s assistant, “I want to put £100 on that horse,” and that is not recorded, and the State is defrauded of revenue.

26. Deputy Ruttledge.—Would you think that it would be a good plan not to give credit but to have all cash transactions?—It certainly would.

They should not give credit in those offices at all—would you think that would be a good plan?—Yes, it certainly would. It is suggested that the bookmakers should be compelled to give a prescribed numbered receipt to their customers for each bet, and that each receipt should bear the name and address of the bookmaker. Presently they give them little slips of paper as receipts for stakes, particularly in point-to-point races. It should be made an offence to issue any other docket than the prescribed and numbered one.

27. Senator Parkinson.—On the question of legalising betting, by making bets recoverable by law, how do the police expect that to happen?—We simply make the recommendation. We think that it would discourage their going to common betting houses; they would make their bets with the man who is registered; they feel that it would be safer to deal with him than with the other man.

Would it apply to the bookmaker or to the backer?—To be fair it should apply both ways.

That only encourages the bookmakers to give credit?—Not necessarily.

If he has a chance of recovering it by law?—We only look at it from the police point of view. Many of our suggestions may not appeal to the Committee.

28. Chairman.—Since the Act has come in, how has it affected crime—has there been more work for the Gárda since these betting houses have come into existence?—So far as the working of the Act is concerned, it does not increase our work very much. We supervise the registered premises and take notes for the purpose of deciding whether we should renew the certificate at the end of the year. If we decide to refuse the certificate it is necessary to go to the court and prove the case, if there is an appeal. It does not add considerably to the work of the Gárda, but we feel that the increase in the number of betting houses or registered premises over the country has added to juvenile crime.

29. Deputy Doyle.—You consider that there is more vigilance on the part of the Gárda than there was under the old régime?—Yes. Neither the R.I.C. nor the Gárda were very successful in the prosecutions. The number of prosecutions in the Saorstát is very small. I gave you the number of prosecutions under the old Acts which are still in force. They have not been very great.

Do you approve of licensing the premises?—I approve of it inasmuch as we have not got the gambling or the betting houses that we have had in the past, and we have not got street betting.

30. Chairman.—Suppose betting houses ceased to exist suddenly and you went back to the old system or street betting, would it be difficult for the Gárda to control that?—It would. If the recommendations that we have put forward are enforced, I think there will be very little abuses under the present system.

31. Deputy Shaw.—As regards the question of non-residential persons, there are at least two of the best supporters of racing in this country, both financially and otherwise, men who have the confidence of every Irish racing man, and owing to something in the Act they are prevented at present from coming here. They are certainly persons of the highest possible character, persons who have subscribed very large sums to all classes of sport, and whose absence is a distinct and great loss to everything connected with sport in this country.

General O’Duffy.—The police have refused them certificates?

32. Deputy Shaw.—Because they are non-residents.

General O’Duffy.—The reason we put forward that regulation is that we may know the character and habits of the applicant. We do not wish people coming from other countries and taking out licences.

33. Deputy Cooper.—Would it be possible for them to work through an agent in the Saorstát, an agent whose character you would be satisfied with?—It would be the bookmaker who would register with us under existing Regulations.

34. Deputy Shaw.—These men could get recommendations from the Turf Club.

General O’Duffy.—When we made that recommendation, we had in mind the necessity for police knowledge of the individual, knowledge that his character is good.

Deputy Cooper.

35. I noted your evidence in connection with the Act. In Section 18, the Gárda have power to compel the production of the licence and to arrest in certain cases? —Yes.

36. Do I take it that the power is under that section?—Yes, we are satisfied with that.

37. One of your recommendations is that in betting offices the display of the list of runners should be prohibited. Would not anybody who took a daily paper into a betting office come under that?—If they are exhibited in a prominent position, it is an inducement to people, an encouragement to remain there all day studying these papers. They can get these papers outside. Printed sheets which are not newspapers, and literature dealing with the races are exhibited, and that is an encouragement to people to remain.

38. Would not the prohibition of the display of the list of runners be rather to the advantage of the dishonest bookie who would take bets on horses not running in a race?—It probably would.

39. Would it not meet your point if the results were not exhibited?—Yes, that is one of our points. A man should make up his mind to back a horse before he goes into the office, into the saloon, and he should lodge his money and leave. We think that he should not, while there, consult any documents. We think that there should be no inducement or encouragement for him in the way of literature while in the office.

40. You disapprove of advertisements by sandwich boards, and so on?—Yes, we do.

41. You also disapprove of men at the corner of the street addressing the passers by and saying: “This is the way to So-and-So’s place, the turf accountant”—you would like that made illegal?—Yes.

42. Would you like advertisement in the Press also made illegal?—Yes, I think so.

43. You consider that all forms of advertisement should cease?—Yes.

44. And every incentive?—Yes.

45. Have you considered the bearing of this Betting Act on greyhound racing at all?—Yes. We find as regards greyhound racing that owing to the fact that people are admitted to the courses at considerably less than to an ordinary horse race meeting, that the number who attend is greater and that the people who go there are poorer and not as well able to bear the expenditure involved. We find that he bookmakers there take bets of sixpence and a shilling which would hardly be taken in an ordinary racecourse. We believe, too, that the greyhound racing has a very bad effect on the youth of the country. We have only three such courses in the Saorstát—two in Dublin and one in Cork. The Dublin courses are open six days in the week and the course in Cork three days in the week. This is not of general application over the entire country, but we think that it has a bad effect.

46. You suggest a limit of 2/- for a bet?—Yes.

47. Do you consider that that should be applicable to a race horse bet as well as to a greyhound course bet?—Yes.

48. Before 1926 betting was prohibited except on race courses, that is, cash betting?—Yes.

49. It was possible to have a telephone bet with a bookmaker?—Yes.

50. The Chairman asked you to state whether it is more difficult to control street betting or licensed houses after the 1926 Act?—At the present time we are unable to control licensed premises under the 1926 Act, but if our recommendations are approved it would be much more easy to deal with licensed houses than with street betting.

51. The difficulties are difficulties of control, and that might be a serious detriment to the police?—That is so.

52. If this Committee were to make a recommendation for a repeal of the whole Act of 1926, do you think the result would be a big increase in street betting? —Yes, probably.

53. That the unfortunate people would continue to bet?—Yes, that you would return to the conditions that prevailed before and in a much worse form than before.

54. If we were to prohibit betting for those under eighteen years of age do you think that they would go to street betting?—I do not think so. I think it would die out. Betting is the chief topic of conversation among these boys. If the law were changed the position would improve.

55. You think at any rate you could control it?—Yes.

56. Have you considered at all the possible effect of betting in connection with the totalisator?—I have not.

57. If the ordinary betting house is abolished, and if the totalisator, conducted by responsible people, were established—a sufficient number suitable for the State—would you have any difficulty in controlling that system?—I have not given that sufficient thought. I should like to consider that before giving an answer.

58. Chairman.—As regards the number of licences granted to one particular man, would you limit him to any number?—At present they are unlimited. You may have a man with a registered business in Dundalk and he has also got registered premises in Castleblaney, Carrickmacross and various centres around, and I think it is undesirable that he should have so many; he can hardly pay sufficient attention to all these places himself.

59. Deputy Shaw.—Having regard to the suggested increase in the duty for bookmakers and the closing down for five hours, I wonder will there be any bookmaker who will think it worth his while to carry on unless the betting tax were scrapped. It would be a good thing if the betting tax were scrapped. I do not think that you can have it both ways.

General O’Duffy.—It is the betting house in the poorer and more congested areas that is doing all the harm—in the poorer parts of the city and the suburbs and the country towns.

60. Deputy Byrne.—Have you no authority or power to stop the issue of licences to little wee hucksters in the slums of the city, in the tenement areas of the City of Dublin—I can mention two or three surrounded by tenements—have you no power?—No power. There is one place in which there is a hut in a back yard, and it is registered premises.

Deputy Shaw.—It bears out every word I said when I was opposing the establishment of those houses and the betting tax in 1926. I pointed out all these grievances that would be involved, and now after three years they have come home.

61. Deputy Anthony.—Without expressing any view, General O’Duffy, on your evidence, I should like to ask you one question: How would a messenger commonly known as a tout be regarded in relation to Section 20 of the Act of 1926— would he be considered as coming under that section?—No; it applies only to those employed as principal clerks or assistants.

Deputy Anthony.—The bookmaker frequently has no other means of communication, even with rich clients, except by messenger, and it would be essential for the carrying on of his business that he should have a messenger.

General O’Duffy.—The section would apply to a clerk or an assistant in a responsible position.

62. Deputy Anthony.—It may happen that a clerk or other person in a responsible position may not be able to leave the premises.

General O’Duffy.—I would say that only a clerk or assistant in a responsible position should be certificated.

Deputy Anthony.

63. How would that affect the messenger or tout?—I would not be inclined to bring in a messenger or a typist. A bookmaker might have a typist in his office. I think there is no necessity for a certificate as regards the typist, nor as regards the messenger, nor as regards any junior person who would not take bets.

64. You have no objection to a messenger?—No, nor to any assistant in a minor position, nor to a typist. The question is as regards age. You must consider the question of age.

65. You do not raise an objection if he is over eighteen?—Not if he is over eighteen.

Senator Bennett.

66. In one of your recommendations you suggest that a person who applies for a licence should prove his capacity to pay?—Yes.

67. Were there many defaulters in the City of Dublin, men who did not pay?— There have been.

68. A reasonable number?—Yes. a reasonable number in Dublin and elsewhere, and even in the small towns.

Senator Foran.

69. In order to prevent loitering in licensed premises, if certain measurements were laid down for bookmakers’ offices would that prevent overcrowding in the office—I know in some cases bookmakers have premises that are very extensive, with a capacity to hold 500—if they had small offices of a certain measurement would not that prevent loitering?—The large place gets away from the office idea. I think the intention of the Legislature at the time was that the premises should be an office. There is no congestion in the large places, but there is a great deal of noise and din. I should prefer to have a small office. At present some of them are public halls or saloons.

70. They are extensive, and great crowds can congregate there?—Yes.

71. Would you set a limit to the number of offices?—Yes.

72. Would that not enhance the value of these offices?—Yes, but the balance of gain will be in reducing the number. If the price is increased considerably, men in the poorer parts of the City will not be able to get business and will not be able possibly to pay.

73. Have you any authority or power in the issue of licences?—Oh, yes. We can only refuse in certain conditions; we can only refuse on specified grounds of objection.

74. Do you think that it would be desirable that any person applying for a licence should deposit a certain amount of money?—Well, I should like to consider that. If we were satisfied as to his financial position——

75. Senator Molloy.—The better way would be that each man should get a bond from a company, say, for £500. Would not that meet the point?—Yes.

76. Senator Foran.—As regards people making bets who were in receipt of poor relief or unemployment benefit, how would you find out that they were?—We may have some little difficulty in Dublin, but not elsewhere, and I think the result of our recommendation would be that a man would not get unemployment benefit who was engaged in betting transactions.

77. Deputy Doyle.—People in receipt of outdoor relief and unemployment benefit may have more money for bets than other people.

Deputy Anthony.

78. What is to be deplored is that betting is taking place by people who are receiving unemployment benefit or poor law relief. I should like to know from you the extent. Could you give us any idea of the extent to which people who are in receipt of poor law relief or unemployment benefit have spent their money in gambling?—We know who some of these people are. The police reports go to every Superintendent, and I am sure these police officers have certain individuals in mind, and by tracing the records in the bookmaker’s register we could possibly give the numbers, but it would take some time.

79. Have you any means of determining whether it was his or her own money or the unemployment benefit money that the person spent in betting?—No.

80. Mistakes might be made in that respect, and we should like to know the method of determining whether it was their own money that they spent or not. It might happen that an unemployed person would get money to make a bet?— Yes; they have more time to spare than other persons. The penalty would not be enforced unless the matter were definitely made clear common knowledge.

81. I should like to put a stop to it, but another thing is the method by which it could be stopped.

Senator Foran.

82. Are you satisfied that the relationship between the Post Office and Revenue authorities and the police is as close as it ought to be?—We have very little association with the Post Office. We have not heard from them since the passing of the Act.

83. You suggest that the calling of odds and the shouting of results and so on should be prohibited. If the Post Office people were in co-operation with you and refused to give the use of the telephone to announce results and runners, would not that help you?—Yes. Very little use is made of the telephone in that regard. Some of my men have served in the R.I.C. and I understand from them that this practice was going on wholesale, and they got very little assistance in that respect.

84. It may create another abuse if a man has the use of a telephone in a back room. People concerned in betting will not have ’phones as a rule. If a wealthy man wants to bet he is not injuring anybody, but it is unfair to the poorer people that they should get supplied to everybody.

85. Chairman.—Betting outside the Free State does not come under your notice?—No, it is a Post Office matter entirely. Such cases are not reported to the police by the Post Office authorities. We have very little to do under the Betting Act of 1926 at the present moment, but if our recommendations are adopted we shall have quite a good deal to do.

86. Deputy Cooper.—Is it fair to ask you your general attitude towards betting —I rather inferred from what you said that you only regard it as harmful when conducted by people who cannot afford to lose money or who bet on such a scale that their minds are completely distracted from their ordinary work and that they are unable to give attention to their ordinary affairs.

General O’Duffy.—You interpret me correctly, sir.

87. Deputy Byrne.—You are satisfied that the present system is harmful to the welfare of the country, that it has many evils, and that its only advantage was the abolition of street betting?— Yes, the abolition of the common betting house and the gaming house. That is an advantage from the police point of view, but it may have advantages from the revenue point of view.

88. Deputy Anthony.—Since the introduction of the 1926 Act gambling has increased considerably among the poorer classes?—Yes. Every police officer in the State will agree with that.

89. Senator Parkinson.—Have you any statistics of the money spent in betting in the offices last year?—No, we have no information.

90. Senator Parkinson.—The Revenue Commissioners do supply it. We have a report made by racing people of the amount of betting in the offices in 1927, that it was £4,000,000.

General O’Duffy.—Unfortunately we cannot compare it with the conditions before 1926. We do not know what the amount was then.

91. Deputy Doyle.—Regarding the point raised as to the increase in betting after the Act of 1926, I believe that the Gárdaí had not before 1926 the same opportunity of coping with it that they have now. It was carried on in every lane and den in the City untouched and unknown by anybody except those actually mixed up with it, and further there was every possibility of the poorer class of people taking greater advantage of it?—Yes.

92. Deputy Cooper.—Have you any views on double event betting?—No. I will bring an authority with me on the next occasion.

93. Chairman.—Would the Committee want to see General O’Duffy again?

94. Deputy Cooper.—We should like to analyse the report of his statement.

General O’Duffy.—I will give you a memo. embodying all the recommendations that I have made and giving all the suggestions I can possibly find that will be of use to the Committee.

95. Deputy Shaw.—Will you consider the suggestions made by the Committee with regard to the persons excluded?— Yes.

96. Senator Parkinson.—Will you come back again?—Yes, if you require me.

97. Chairman.—I beg to thank General O’Duffy very much for his courtesy in coming and for the very valuable information which he has given us.

The Committee consulted in private, and adjourned at 5.55 p.m. till Wednesday, 28th inst., at 11 a.m.