MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Dé Céadaoin, 20adh Feabhra, 1929.
(Wednesday, 20th February, 1929.)
The Joint Committee met at 11.30 a.m.
SENATOR T. W. BENNETT in the Chair.
Mr. T. A. Burke (Chairman), Mr. C. McLoughlin (Vice-Chairman), and Mr. J. Brown (Acting-Secretary), representing the Turf Accountants’ Protection Association, called and examined.
514. The following memorandum of evidence on behalf of the Turf Accountants’ Protection Association was submitted:—
1. The situation with regard to betting and bookmakers has undergone such a change since the introduction of the 1926 Betting Act that the reasons which induced the Government to pass such a measure are frequently overlooked.
2. As is well known, previous to the passing of the Betting Act, 1926, which came into operation the 1st November that year, “Cash Betting,” except on the racecourse or some other similar place, viz., football grounds, athletic meetings, coursing meetings, etc., was illegal, and anyone found making such a wager as well as the person accepting it was liable to a fine of £50 or three months’ imprisonment.
3. While this was the position with regard to “Cash Wagering,” “Credit Wagering” was exempt from the above penalties, and many offices were open throughout the city where this class of business was done. “Credit Wagering” was carried on by means of the telephone, telegrams, and the postal service. It was contrary to the law for a person to resort to the office for the purpose of making a wager.
4. “Cash Wagering,” though illegal, was carried on to a great extent, and there were at least three hundred places throughout the city where such wagers were accepted. As well as this, there were numerous “street” bookmakers, or agents acting for bookmakers, who frequented the vicinity of factories, licensed houses, or other places where large numbers of men gathered. It had reached such dimensions that its suppression would have been exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, and it was the recognition of this fact, as frankly admitted by the Minister for Finance in his Budget statement (21/4/’26), which induced him to introduce legislation so that this business could be controlled and abuses checked, as well as obtaining thereby a substantial amount of revenue from a source hitherto untapped.
5. The coming into operation of the Betting Act practically ended the “street” bookmaker, and also the acceptance of wagers in unregistered premises, for, apart from detection by the Revenue and Gárdaí authorities, every case of unlicensed men accepting wagers that came to the notice of the Association was promptly brought to the notice of the authorities.
6. As the detailed figures showing the amount of revenue obtained by the State from licence and registration fees, and the percentage tax on the wagers, have been supplied to the Committee by the Revenue witness, Mr. Randall, it is only necessary to state here that since the coming into operation of the Act the State has benefited to the amount of over £468,000.
(In support of the above, see Questions 4, 5, 8, 30, also 52 and 53, of General O’Duffy’s evidence.)
(Re penalty for receiving cash wagers, see Section 4, Betting Act, 1853.)
7. Our experience with regard to the working of the Betting Act practically divides itself into three sections—
A. As it affects the relations between the authorities and the book-makers.
B. As it affects the actual working of the business.
C. As it affects the public.
A. As it affects the relations between the authorities and the bookmakers.
8. Under this heading the principal defect has been the inadequate protection the present procedure for obtaining a licence or the registration of an office affords against the entry of undesirable characters into the business.
9. We would suggest that to obtain a licence or its renewal the procedure be by application in the District Court, where objections, if any, could be tendered by the Revenue, Gárda, the representative organisation of the business, and any other bodies the District Justice might consider justified in intervening.
10. The “Resident” qualification is at present open to serious abuse. We believe this could be guarded against by defining the term “Resident” as “a person who has been living in the Saorstát for a period of at least 12 months previous to the date of his application for a licence.”
11. The present means of obtaining registration of an office leaves the way open for men who are acting as agents for other men, who are not licensed bookmakers, to register an office. This is in contravention of Section 20 of the Act, but we believe that a further clause requiring proof of ownership of the business should be added to enable such cases to be dealt with.
12. We are of the opinion that there are at present sufficient registered offices, and would suggest that no further offices be registered until the number had decreased considerably.
13. In particular it ought to be a ground of objection to the application for registration in any district, but especially in the poorer districts, that the number of offices was sufficient.
14. Prohibition of accepting wagers from juveniles. We are in entire agreement with the Commissioner of the Gárda on the question of prohibiting the acceptance of wagers from persons under 18 years of age.
15. Revision of the penalties imposed for offences connected with the business. Most of the breaches of the law that have taken place under the new conditions are breaches of the Revenue law, and the penalties range from £100 to £550.
In our opinion a more moderate penalty would have greater deterring effect, as most of the people affected are not in a position to pay anything like the above amounts.
B. As it affects the actual working of the business.
16. With the coming into operation of the Betting Act the bookmaker who desired to carry on a “Cash Betting” business in an office had to rent or purchase a “Premises” which would comply with the requirements of the Act. To register this premises he would have to obtain a certificate of suitability from the Superintendent of the Gárda and pay a fee of £20 Excise duty.
17. In addition to conducting his business in an office where no other business was permitted, the regulations with which the office bookmaker had to conform so as to meet the Revenue requirements meant additional clerks, so that an immediate result of the Act was the occupying of from 450 to 500 offices and the employment of from 500 to 700 clerks.
The congregating of crowds in offices.
18. Considerable public comment has been raised against betting offices on the grounds that large numbers of people gathered in and about them, and remained in the vicinity of the offices for considerable portions of the day. One of the causes for such crowds gathering, in our opinion, is that a system of business known as “P.P.” and “List Betting,” which consists of paying immediately after the result, is carried on, the result being made known by a special telephone service which also supplies the runners for each race.
19. We suggest that both of the above methods, or any other method by which payment is made on the same day as the wager, be prohibited, as we consider that it would be impossible to prevent crowds gathering in the offices where this class of business is done.
20. Possibly the best means of achieving this would be the removal of the special telephone service.
21. The present clause in the Betting Act dealing with numbers of people congregating and loitering in betting offices only makes it a ground of objection to the renewal of registration.
22. This, in our opinion, should be a separate clause subject to a penalty and to which the power of the District Justice under Section 12 would apply.
23. In the drafting of any clause dealing with this aspect of the business care would be needed to ensure that men were not liable to prosecution because at some period of the day there happened to be a rush of business.
24. Any amendment of the law as suggested by the Gárda Commissioner for facilitating the Gárdaí in keeping people from congregating outside the betting offices would be welcomed, as in most cases these people congregate despite the efforts of the bookmaker to prevent it, and are an injury to his business.
The Ready Money Football Betting Act.
25. One of the surprises of the Betting Act was that ready-money betting on football results by means of a printed coupon was still illegal. In our opinion the restriction on this class of business should be removed.
C. As it affects the public.
26. The great defect of the Betting Act from the public aspect is that there is no legal protection against non-payment of betting debts.
27. This, in our opinion, can only be dealt with by an amendment of the present law so that betting debts, the result of cash wagers, would be recoverable by the ordinary procedure of the law.
Supplementary Memorandum with reference to Recommendations made by the Gárda Commissioner.
Supplementary Memorandum relative to points raised by Mr. Randall on behalf of the Revenue Authorities.
515. Mr. Brown.—With regard to paragraph 6, the amount originally stated was £452,000, but I am now in a position to state that up to 31st December, 1928, the total amount of revenue obtained by the State from licence and registration fees and the percentage tax was £468,000. It is necessary to emphasise the fact that the Betting Act in itself was a tremendous social benefit as well as a benefit from the revenue point of view. People who live in Dublin, and who were in any way acquainted with the conditions that existed, will immediately recognise that fact and admit it. As is stated in the memorandum, the business was conducted in a most obnoxious manner from the social point of view. Round about the lane-ways and bye-ways, you had men evading detection. That was having a tremendously bad moral influence from the point of view that there were vast numbers of people breaking the law with practical immunity. I think that fact is recognised by almost everybody in the city. In the evidence given by Mr. Quinn he seemed entirely to overlook that fact. Most of the business was done in the vicinity of publichouses and other places of that sort. That was hardly a thing likely to add to social improvement. I emphasise that point, because there seems to be amongst a number of people an idea that the Betting Act has led to an increase in gambling and an increase of bookmakers. Such is entirely disproved by the facts as disclosed in the revenue figures. Since the Act was introduced there has been a steady decline in the number of men licensed and the number of offices registered. The amount of tax for the two periods of twelve months has steadily declined both on the racecourse and as regards the five per cent. tax in the offices. There is a steady decrease in the amount of gambling since the Betting Act came to operate. Of course you have been supplied with figures already.
516. Mr. Brown, you have stated that the social benefits of the 1926 Act have not been fully appreciated by the Irish public?—That is my opinion.
517. I would like you to amplify your evidence, because it has not been made quite clear to me that there has been any social benefit derived by the people as a result of the 1926 Act. You have referred to the evidence given by Mr. Quinn, of the National Teachers. His evidence does not go to show that any social benefits have accrued. It might be truly said that quite the opposite has been proved by his evidence. His evidence went to show that other evils have arisen as a result of the operations of the 1926 Act. There is what is known as the saloon, for instance. There has been a development on that side which we are all agreed has not done anything to improve matters or be of social benefit; rather has it done the opposite thing. The betting saloon is a development which was not contemplated by the 1926 Act. I am sure the development of the saloon and the evils which have followed in the train of that development are not approved by your Association?—No.
518. Chairman.—The memorandum sets out that the working of the Betting Act practically divides itself into three sections: (1) as it affects the relations between the authorities and the bookmakers; (2) as it affects the actual working of the business; (3) as it affects the public. Deputy Anthony is alluding to No. (3), and perhaps he would not mind delaying his remarks until we are dealing with that particular section.
Deputy Anthony.—I am quite satisfied to do so.
519. Chairman.—Does Mr. Burke wish to give evidence in regard to those three points?
Mr. Brown.—Mr. Burke will deal with that particular aspect.
Mr. Burke.—The memorandum sets out: “As it affects the relations between the authorities and the bookmakers: Under this heading the principal defect has been the inadequate protection the present procedure for obtaining a licence or the registration of an office affords against the entry of undesirable characters into the business.” Arising out of that, at the present time the only qualification for a man to obtain a licence as a bookmaker is that he goes to a police officer in his district after having advertised the fact in the local papers, and it rests practically entirely in that police officer’s hands whether or not he will grant that man a licence. We think that every application for a licence should be made to the District Magistrate or the District Justice, as the case may be, and such people as the Guards, the Revenue Authorities, our Association, which represents the bookmaking business in this country, and any other approved bodies could object to that man being given a licence, if necessary. We really think it should be taken out of the hands of a policeman to grant a licence to a bookmaker. It should be done by the Judiciary.
520. Deputy Anthony.—You suggest that these applications for licences should go through the same form as in the case of a man applying for a licence to sell beer and spirits—it should be of the same character?—Exactly.
521. Deputy Doyle.—Would you suggest an increased fee for certificates and for premises?—I would not, because I think it would be absolutely against reason to do so. In the year 1926, when the Betting Act was first brought in, there were, on the 1st November, 622 licences issued to bookmakers at £10 each and there were 582 offices registered at £20 each. On the 1st November, 1927, the number of licensed bookmakers had fallen from 622 to 570, and the registered offices had fallen from 582 to 558. On the 1st November, 1928, the licences had fallen to 344. At the present moment you have only 344, and possibly less, but certainly not more, licensed bookmakers. The registered offices have fallen from 582 to 474. I think the suggestion of higher charges for registration fees or a licence for a bookmaker would only tend to reduce the number further, and it would be a small step in the direction of establishing what is known as a monopoly in the business between the few men who could afford to carry on. As Mr. Brown stated originally, it is quite evident from those figures that betting has decreased instead of increased.
522. Deputy Anthony.—Do you mean that the sum invested in betting has decreased?—The volume of betting has decreased.
523. What about the number of people who engage in betting, which is more a matter of concern for this Committee— the number of people and the class of people who bet? Has betting to your knowledge increased amongst the poorer classes of the community?—I am speaking with regard to figures which could not possibly be contradicted. I maintain that the number of bookmakers is fewer and that in the majority of cases of bookmakers existing at the present time the turnover has decreased by 50 per cent.
524. Senator MacLoughlin.—But the number of people betting has not also decreased?—Possibly, but the volume of betting has.
525. Deputy Anthony.—The volume representing all the money?—Yes. That has decreased. I would not say the numbers betting have increased.
526. Twenty people betting at one shilling would mean one pound, and forty people betting at sixpence would mean the same thing. The volume of money has gone down, but the numbers of people betting are possibly greater. Is that from your observation?—From my observation I would say a great deal fewer people bet even on the racecourses.
527. Deputy Doyle.—Have you any suggestion with regard to limiting the number of betting offices?—I think that comes on later on. We will take the paper just as it is.
528. Chairman.—Now we come to “resident qualification”?—It is very important to get a definition of the words “ordinarily resident.” At the moment I might mention that there is no legal definition of the words “ordinarily resident.” Consequently it conveys nothing. The term is very vague. (Witness here read paragraph 10, commencing with the words “the resident qualification,” etc.) It has been decided by our Association to add to that the following words:—“In view of the fact that some members of our Association have been victimised through the existing legislation—and I think it was never intended to victimise such people—racegoing bookmakers who had been here all their lives—we think that something should be embodied in furtherance to that to except people who regularly practised in the Free State for at least one year previous to the passing of the 1926 Act.”
529. Senator MacLoughlin.—Would you not say five years?—Five years would take a terrible lot of explaining. There are really only four or five people concerned in this matter.
530. Senator Parkinson.—Would it not be a much wiser way to allow a course bookmaker who has been deprived of a licence to get a licence from the Irish Turf authorities?—With the greatest respect I would ask the question, what on earth have the Irish Turf authorities to say to the control of bookmakers or to the issuing of licences to bookmakers, the majority of whom never attend racecourses under their control?
531. Senator Parkinson.—The Irish Turf Club would not give a licence to anybody, but make a recommendation, and on that recommendation the bookmakers would get a licence from the issuing authorities. The Turf Club only confines itself to what will happen on the race-course.
532. Chairman.—You are referring to racecourse betting?—Yes, but to an equal extent this would apply to coursing. Mr. Shaw and Mr. McAlinden are two of our greatest coursing enthusiasts.
533. Senator Parkinson.—That would be a matter for the coursing authorities. But if the Turf Club authorities make a recommendation to the licensing authorities, we think that on that recommendation the bookmaker should get his licence?
534. Senator MacLoughlin.—Would you agree with that suggestion?—I am not in a position to agree with it, inasmuch as we are here speaking as regards bookmakers, and I have no mandate, good, bad or indifferent, to agree to that. I am not giving personal opinions here. I think, after great consideration and a great deal of time spent on this matter, our suggestion is that “resident qualification” is very essential. We think that the bringing in of the little clause, the acceptance of people who regularly practised as bookmakers in the Free State, would meet the case.
535. Senator Parkinson.—I would like to point out that no bookmaker has any authority to bet on any racecourse if the ruling authorities of that racecourse do not accept him?—I understand that.
536. Is it not very logical? The authorities of the racecourse are in a position to know whether the man who applied for the licence is a desirable man and one to whom a licence should be issued—they know whether he is the sort of man who should get a licence?—I do not agree with that. You are giving the power to a self-elected body such as the Turf Club is to go outside their own particular sphere.
537. Chairman.—What we want to know is if you would accept the suggestion of Senator Parkinson?—I would not.
538. Deputy MacEntee.—At the same time you feel that some special provision should be made to meet the case?—Undoubtedly so. (Here Witness read paragraph 11 commencing with the words “The present means of,” etc.) Now our object in putting in that paragraph is that we happen to know of at least a couple of existing cases where the bookmaker is a man who has just been given £10 by somebody else, some party who is in a different business altogether. He sets the man up as a registered bookmaker in registered premises. That man is, as we described it, a man of straw. Anything can happen the following day. If the principal does not wish to meet his liabilities, well, he is in a position to do so, and without any possibility of people to whom he owes money recovering of him. Therefore, in order to safeguard the public, and in order to protect our own business from abuse, we think there should be some legal clause brought in so as to provide that the application for a licence should be an application from the landlord and the tenant of the premises sought to be registered. Also, we think that the man applying for the licence should be entitled to the premises beneficially and not as agent or trustee, as some parties are at the present time.
539. Senator Parkinson.—Would you not consider that it would be a much better plan to have a deposit or a guarantee —say some deposit in cash were made by the bookmaker on taking out his licence— would not that be better?—No, I do not think so. I think it would be very unfair and very unjust to impose such a condition on a bookmaker.
540. Senator MacLoughlin.—Would it not guard against those abuses that you have mentioned?—It would not. To some extent it would, but the qualifications as regards finance and money are not everything in a bookmaker.
541. They are most essential?—Yes, to a great extent. But, surely, why should a man who has no other business in the world but this have, before he is allowed to get his licence, to go in and give a guarantee to the Government that he will not default?
542. Deputy Anthony.—Has not a pawnbroker to do it—has he not to do something of that sort?—I do not think so.
543. Chairman.—Perhaps Deputy Ruttledge could tell us?
Deputy Ruttledge.—He has. He has to give a certain guarantee.
544. Deputy Anthony.—You cannot open an office as a banker without giving some guarantee. The same principle ought apply in the case of a bookmaker?—What you want really is that somebody would hold the bookmaker’s money in trust, whereas the man who bets with the bookmaker gets off scot free if he defaults.
545. The man who makes the bet with the bookmaker puts down his stake?— The big majority of betting is done on credit.
546. Deputy MacEntee.—Have you any figures relating to that?—I could produce figures. There is very seldom, in the case of a bet of £20 on a race-course, ready money. Bets of that kind are done on credit.
547. I think the evidence of Mr. Randall was to the other effect. He suggested that a large proportion was cash betting? —Possibly in the case of starting price offices.
548. Senator MacLoughlin.—You want to keep out agents of people living outside the Saorstát?—Yes.
549. You suggest that this should be done in some other way. Would not Senator Parkinson’s method of their having to make deposits do more to keep out undesirables?—I do not think that would meet the question at all. I think the fact of asking a man to put down a guarantee of his financial stability to any great extent would be a very great handicap in this business. I think that the chief qualification of a bookmaker to carry on his business is honesty and personal character. That and of course ability are the chief things.
550. Deputy MacEntee.—But his ability to carry on his business must to a great extent depend on his financial resources. Consider the case of an insurance company. An insurance company dealing with life insurance has to make a certain deposit in acceptable stock with the Government before it is permitted to carry on the business of an insurance company. The company enjoys the interest upon that stock. The stock is not lost to it?— Would you not consider in such a case that the remedy would be worse than the disease, in so far as it would create a monopoly.
551. Deputy MacEntee.—Assume that the applicant for a bookmaker’s licence should satisfy the granting authority that he will be in a position honestly to discharge his liabilities as a bookmaker?— Oh, certainly, he can of course. At the present time the Betting Act absolutely covers that when it states that if a man is “of known habits.” I have annually to apply for a licence. If I have defaulted in paying anybody, that person can come up before the licensing authority and object to my being given a licence. The Act as it stands covers that.
552. You think, however, that the greater portion of the point would be met if the applicants for licences had to make their applications in open courts?—Yes, that would cover everything.
553. Mr. McLoughlin (Turf Accountants’ Protection Association).—I think Senator Parkinson’s idea that the bookmaker should deposit money or give a guarantee would hit some men who have been in business all their lives, men who have conducted their business well. Some of these men would not be strong enough to put down a large sum of money, and these men, though they have conducted their business honestly for years, would be hit very hard.
554. Deputy Doyle.—Would not a personal fitness certificate meet the point as against putting down a guarantee?
555. Mr. McLoughlin.—It would not. I do not see what relation it has to it.
556. Chairman.—It would be better not to get into any sort of controversy in this. We seem to have got it clearly fixed that Mr. Burke does not think that any guarantee should be asked from a bookmaker as regards his ability to pay. Mr. Burke, you stated that you were of opinion that credit betting exceeds cash betting? —Yes, on the race-course.
557. You are not alluding to the betting offices?—No.
Paragraph 12 read.
558. Deputy Doyle.—We take it, Mr. Burke, you are of opinion there is already in existence a sufficient number of offices?—Yes, in the City of Dublin particularly.
559. And they should not be increased? —Exactly. I think also that if a person applied to register premises that somebody should be in a position to object that the people in the particular district for which the licence was applied are already well catered for. We have had complaints from some of our country members on that point. In some of the smaller country towns with a population of 1,200 there are three or four betting offices, which is absolutely ridiculous. A licence for registered premises should not be given to every Tom, Dick and Harry.
Paragraphs 12 and 13 read.
560. Deputy Anthony.—I cannot subscribe to paragraph 12 in the memorandum, for it would tend to create a monopoly. Assume a desirable person with ample capital wished to become established as a bookmaker, if he made application and your suggestion were in force, that no further offices be registered until the number be decreased considerably, he could not get a licence. “Considerably” is an elastic term. I agree there are too many of those registered offices, but do you not think your suggestion would tend to create a close borough?-No. The suggestion is qualified by another paragraph. It should be left to the District Justice to use his own discretion, taking into consideration the population and number of offices, as to whether there are a sufficient number of offices.
561. I suggest in paragraph 13 you should make it “a serious ground of objection”?—I would agree to that.
Chairman.—You would like to amend your memorandum in that respect?— Yes.
Paragraph 14 read.
562. Chairman.—As a practical man, how do you propose to know their ages?— We will have to act in that respect just as the other licensed traders do, by powers of observation. Previous to evidence being given before this Committee the Association approached the Ministry of Justice and made that recommendation.
Paragraph 15 read.
563. Mr. Burke.—I have been asked to stress this point particularly. At present, according to the Revenue laws, no effort is made to define criminality by intent. For instance, a bookmaker is found guilty of a small technical offence which would possibly involve a loss to the Revenue of one penny, and the District Justice trying that case has no alternative but to fine that man £500. If he is found guilty of defrauding the Revenue of £10 or of £20 it is the same thing.
564. Deputy Ruttledge.—The Minister has power to mitigate that fine?—I am speaking with regard to the power the magistrate has at the moment.
565. The magistrate has power to reduce it to £125?—Yes, but when the authorities oppose the practice is that the full penalty is imposed.
566. Deputy Doyle.—Do you suggest the District Justice should have more powers than he has with regard to using his discretion in particular cases?—We think that section of the Act wants over-hauling from A to Z, and that it is all wrong. From the point of view of a citizen, I think that the control of the liberty of any citizen should not be left in the hands of the administration, and that it should be left only in the power of the judiciary. At present, in practice a man is found guilty of an offence by the Revenue authorities. He is brought before a magistrate, the case is proved against him, and on five or six counts he is fined £500, which the magistrate possibly mitigates to £125. That man is unable to pay the money immediately. Then the practice is to issue a body warrant, and he is taken to jail. His means of livelihood is taken from him. The penalty is imposed, and at the same time there is taken away from the man the only possible chance of paying the penalty, namely, his licence or means of livelihood.
567. Deputy MacEntee.—The recommendation of your Association is that the penalty should be made more moderate and should be enforced?—Our idea is that the administration should have no control over that—that that should be left to the District Justice or the Judiciary. We also think that in such cases the bookmakers should have a right to appeal to the Circuit Court Judge.
568. Deputy Anthony.—Your opinion also is that the penalty should bear a better relation to the offence?—Yes. Let the punishment fit the crime. At present criminality is not judged as to intent, which is everything as regards the law. Commissioners have the right to revoke the licence of a bookmaker any time they wish. That should be done only by application to a District Justice.
569. Chairman.—Do you, Mr. McLoughlin, wish to supplement the evidence of Mr. Burke so far, or have you any opinions to offer upon the points mentioned?
570. Mr. McLoughlin.—With regard to an application for a licence, the present position is that a bookmaker advertises the application. After a certain time he goes to the police and gets a certificate from them if there is no objection. He then pays £10 for a personal licence and £20 for a licence for the registered premises. In the case of objection, objection is made on statutory grounds which are hardly defined. When a person is objected to he goes to the police courts, but when doing so he has no idea what the real objection is. Common justice demands that when a bookmaker is charged he should be provided with the time and the dates as regards overcrowding, etc. At present, when an objection is made against a bookmaker, he does not know what the objection is and what he has to defend. It is the police who object to him and who judge him, thereby putting the police in a judicial capacity, which ought not to be tolerated.
571. I take it you endorse Mr. Burke’s opinion that it would be better to have a licence given by a District Justice in open Court with right of objection?—Yes. The police should not be in the position that they could refuse a licence and try you at the same time. There have been charges of congregating and loitering, although the bookmaker could prove he transacted a good deal of business at the time of the alleged congregating and loitering in his office. In one case the District Justice remarked he was there for no other purpose but to act on the Gárda point of view. I think that comes in later in the memorandum.
572. Deputy MacEntee.—I think the suggestion was made by the Commissioner of Police that bookmaker’s clerks might be registered.
573. Mr. Brown.—I would like to deal with that later. It is a question affecting the bookmaker’s position under the present Act.
Section B, with the heading “As it affects the actual working of the business,” read.
574. Witness.—That deals with one of the effects of the Betting Act. It made the registration of premises necessary. It also involved bookmakers in the additional cost of having to employ extra clerks.
575. Deputy MacEntee.—I notice in the evidence given by General O’Duffy that, in reply to the Chairman (question 24), he stated: “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. It is not a matter of cash. In fact there may be no charge for the certificate, but he should be an approved person.” I think it would be important to have the attitude of your Association on that.
576. Mr. Brown.—That is a matter that concerns clerks in offices more than clerks on courses. In view of the fact that the penalties are so terrific in the case of an oversight, a mistake or an omission that a man is liable to be utterly ruined, no matter how much he may supervise his clerks, unless he takes on himself the actual work of going over the books each night—an impossible task— he has no guarantee but that something is being done which may utterly ruin him, we consider that there is a good deal of value in the suggestion made by General O’Duffy. We had given the matter consideration previous to it being mentioned by him. We consider that at least the principal clerk should be liable for any intentional omission or suppression of a wager or docket that would involve his employer in the consequences that he suffers under the present Act. In other words, we want to make him liable for such errors as would implicate or lead to his employer being taken up under the present Betting Act.
577. Chairman.—Do I understand you to suggest that the liability should be transferred from the principal to the agent?—No.
578. What you want is a joint responsibility?—Yes. It would put the weight of responsibility on the clerk, and at the same time do a good deal to eliminate perhaps dishonest motives in an office. No man could possibly supervise clerks in handling money and dockets, and if there is the slightest clerical error in entering the dockets it involves the employer in a penalty of £500 under the Act as at present. If the responsibility was equally placed on the clerk, or even if you had a lesser responsibility on the clerk, you would certainly be making the bookmaker’s position more secure.
579. Deputy MacEntee.—Is the suggestion this, that persons managing an office should be registered just the same as the person owning the office?—I would like to make it clear that we are not in any way suggesting that a fee should be charged. We do not want to involve the clerks in having to fill up forms in connection with registration—intricate forms such as the bookmakers have to deal with to-day.
Chairman.—The Committee will consider your recommendation.
Paragraphs 18 to 24, dealing with “the congregation of crowds in offices,” read.
580. Chairman.—Do you wish, Mr. Burke, to amplify what is set out in these paragraphs?
581. Deputy MacEntee.—There was a suggestion, I think by General O’Duffy, that Section 16 (1) should be altered so that the offices would open in the early part of the day from 10 o’clock to 1 o’clock, and in the evening from 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock. The suggestion was that there would be a closing of the offices between the hours of 1 o’clock and 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Have you anything to say on that?—I think it would have been much better to say to close the offices altogether, because the suggestion made is tantamount to that.
582. Chairman.—Then you do not agree with the suggestion?—No, I think it is ridiculous.
583. I would not pass any severe stricture on the opinion that was given to the Committee?—I may say that it is not merely my own personal opinion, but the opinion of the Association which I represent, that the suggestion made is absolutely tantamount to closing the offices altogether.
584. Senator Parkinson.—The public-houses are closed in the middle of the day, and it does not seem to lead to shebeening or anything like that?—You must remember that the object of closing the public-houses from 2.30 to 3.30 each day was to get people to go about their business. That was the reason that I heard given for it at the time. I submit that if General O’Duffy’s suggestion in regard to the closing of betting offices was to be applied to public-houses what it would mean is this: that the public-houses would be closed from 4 o’clock in the afternoon till 10 o’clock at night, and that they would open in the mornings between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. A book-maker’s hours of business are between 1 o’clock and 4 in the afternoon or 1 o’clock and 5 o’clock.
585. Senator Parkinson.—Might I point out that General O’Duffy made this recommendation from the police point of view because the keeping open of the betting offices between 1 o’clock and 5 o’clock interferes with workmen and causes waste of time. Mr. Randall, a revenue official, stated in his evidence that 95 per cent. of the betting in betting offices was done in small amounts and mainly by working people. I assume that when General O’Duffy made that recommendation that what he really had in mind was to save these people from themselves; that instead of frequenting the betting offices between the hours of 1 o’clock and 5 o’clock they should be at their work?—It is our opinion, and I put it forward in all reason, that the only leisure hours in the day which the working man has are between 1 o’clock and 3 o’clock. The practice with him is to have his dinner hour between 1 o’clock and 2 o’clock or between 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Consequently, I think that the closing of the offices, instead of creating what Senator Parkinson states, would produce the opposite result—it would be an inducement to men to leave their work before 1 o’clock in the day so as to get out in time to have their bets.
586. Deputy MacEntee.—I assume that your busiest hours are between 1 and 3 o’clock. What would the attitude of your Association be on the question of closing for a short interval—an hour, say—some time after 3 o’clock in order to meet the objection put forward by General O’Duffy. After all, we have to look at the matter from this point of view: that General O’Duffy must have made this very stringent recommendation because there was present to his mind a very grave evil. We would like to know from you where we could meet that difficulty which he raises by closing for a short interval. What would your attitude to that be?—We are absolutely opposed to it. Under the Betting Act of 1926 the arrangement is that registered offices can open at 9 o’clock in the morning and remain open until 6 o’clock in the evening. The offices, however, must be closed at six. We think that the hours 9 to 6 are reasonable business hours for any business. The great volume of betting, and unfortunately this happens in even the best regulated offices causing a certain amount of congestion, goes on between the hours of 1 o’clock and 3 o’clock. That is our busiest time. The suggestion to close down the offices from 1 o’clock to 5 o’clock is tantamount to saying that they should be closed down altogether. If they were closed during those hours the only business that could be done would be credit business.
587. Deputy MacEntee.—Would you be strongly opposed to closing the offices between, say, the hours of 3 and 4 o’clock, or 3.30 and 4.30?—I cannot for the world understand what good that would do. It would only embarrass the bookmakers. I can assure General O’Duffy or anybody else who wishes to go round and see for himself that once 3 o’clock comes there is no one entering the offices wanting to make bets. All business is done by that hour, except, of course, in the case of bookmakers who have offices where they pay after a race, and where runners for the succeeding races are received and posted up. We as an Association are opposed to that class of business. In the case of offices where no payments are made after a race, you will not see individuals entering to make a bet after the hour of 3.30. I do not think it would serve any useful object, and I cannot see why it should be even suggested.
588. Deputy Doyle.—One question arises on the point under discussion— that concerns the special telephone service. That is the alternative suggestion you make to the closing in the afternoon. Is not this telephone under a contract for five years?—It is under contract, but I believe the contract would not be binding if there were an Act to the contrary.
589. Are you definite on that?—We are. We have had inquiries made, and we are informed that it would not be binding on us in the event of an Act being passed.
590. Do you think that would meet the objections raised to paying after the race?—Yes. I think that is the chief cause of people congregating in large numbers. The hours between 1 and 2 and 2 and 3 are the only hours which are available to the workman. Within those hours you will always have people coming in to get paid in respect of a bet made the previous day, or to make a bet. During those hours you will always have a slight congregation of people, even with the abolition of payment after result.
591. Chairman.—We will now deal with the Ready Money Football Betting Act.
592. Mr. Brown.—One of the surprises of the Betting Act was that ready-money betting on football results, by means of a printed coupon, was still illegal. In our opinion, the restriction on this class of business should be removed. In 1920 there was ready-money betting on football coupons. That was prohibited. The Ready Money Football Betting Act was passed in England. What that meant was that under the series of coupons that are issued in connection with football results you could not make a bet for cash at an office, but you could make a bet on credit. By some oversight, this Act was overlooked when the Betting Act was being passed here. It was quite a surprise to us when we discovered, after the Betting Act came into operation, that betting on these printed coupons by ready cash was still prohibited. It was not until a case was tried in the District Court that we quite realised it. We do not consider that that prohibition should continue. There is no point of principle or anything else in it. A very considerable amount of betting on these football results is done. As a matter of fact, it is through the agency of the postal service that bookmakers from the other side distribute a number of these coupons. They are distributed through factories, and a very considerable amount of money is leaving the country by reason of the fact that this class of betting cannot be done by the licensed bookmaker. You had the case last year where some of the big cross-Channel newspapers were carrying on a system of betting by means of these football coupons. While you had thousands of pounds leaving the country, you had the licensed bookmaker prohibited from accepting a cash wager on coupons. We think that prohibition should be removed, and that the licensed bookmaker should be allowed to conduct cash betting on these results.
593. Do you want the printed coupons still to remain in existence?—This class of betting cannot be done without a printed coupon, because it is betting on a combination of results. There might be forty involved.
594. You are in favour of the continuance of betting by coupon?—Yes.
595. We had very considerable evidence against that. You do not think it is a great hardship or a great injustice?—I do not think that evidence dealt with the same thing. I think that evidence dealt with the coupons that are sold for a penny or twopence in shops—a sort of lottery. That has nothing to do with this form of betting.
596. I thought coupon betting was betting by means of coupons?—Of course, it is, but I do not think it is quite the same thing as you had evidence against.
597. The evidence related to the case of poor children?—That does not apply here. At present there is no betting done on these coupons in the offices or near them.
598. Apparently, it is illegal to do this printed coupon betting now?—Yes.
599. Could you give me any idea of what this coupon betting is, because I am completely at sea as regards it. In the first place, you buy a printed coupon?— No. The bookmaker gets printed a considerable number of these coupons giving a list of the football teams which are to compete during the week-end. The man making the bet takes one of these coupons and marks on it what he considers will be the winning teams.
600. The man has a voice in the selection himself?—Yes. He makes the whole selection and lays a wager. Then he hands it in. As regards the coupon lottery, coupons for which are sold in shops at a penny, twopence and three-pence, we are entirely in favour of the discontinuance of that. We think it should be suppressed rigorously, but that does not affect the bookmaker, because he does not dispose of these coupons or derive any benefit from them.
601. But the bookmakers would like to engage in this other coupon business?— Yes, taking a cash wager.
602. Senator Parkinson.—Are these football matches played in Ireland or England?—Mostly in England.
603. There is none in Ireland?—Some take place in Ireland, and some coupons are issued in Ireland, but they are mostly English matches. I should say that 80 per cent. or 90 per cent. of the matches are matches that are played in England.
604. You would not suggest that if this coupon business was legalised it should be confined to Irish football?—I do not think there would be much of it done if it were. There is a very limited number of matches in Ireland, and there would not be sufficient to give the variation in the odds that it is possible to give owing to the number of English and Scotch matches.
605. Chairman.—We will now deal with Section C. headed “As it affects the public” (quoted). That is your suggestion as against any fiduciary guarantee by the bookmakers.
Mr. Burke.—Yes. We suggest that it should be possible to make a slight amendment in the existing Gaming Act which would exempt the licensed bookmaker from the provisions of that Act. The Revenue people are entitled to collect revenue from the proceeds of betting transactions, and we think that a licensed bookmaker should be exempted from the Gaming Act, so that sums would be recoverable by or from him. There is another alternative. Disputes could be submitted to arbitration under the Common Law Procedure Act of 1853 and not to any voluntary body, as is the only recourse at the present time. The only body that is really recognised at the present time, to a certain extent, is the Conyngham Committee. That is a body set up by the Stewards of the Turf Club, and it is very useful as regards race-course bets, but action by that body has no deterring effect on the man betting on the street or engaging in S.P. betting. What does he care about a warning from the Conyngham Club? That is the most they can do. It is very good as regards race-course masters, but I think there should be some slight amendment made in the Gaming Act, or else have disputes which often occur between backer and layer settled under the Common Law Procedure Act by arbitration. We think some kind of legal tribunal should be established to deal with S.P. bets. Race-course bets look after themselves.
606. Senator Parkinson.—I do not understand what legal assistance the bookmaker requires in the case of a cash bet. If he holds the backer’s cash, what legal remedy does he want?—Under Section 3 of our memorandum we are only dealing with the matter as it affects the public.
607. If the bookmaker does not pay, there is a law to deal with him. He is a “welsher”?—He is not a “welsher” until he runs away.
Mr. Brown.—If he returns the stake he is not a “welsher.”
608. Senator Parkinson.—He runs the risk of losing his licence.
Chairman.—I am not sure that he does under the provisions of the Act.
Senator Parkinson.—So far as the police are concerned he does.
Mr. Burke.—What we want is some tribunal to settle disputes. If a backer makes a bet on a particular horse, and next day when he goes into the bookmaker, the horse having won, finds that the clerk has entered the bet to the wrong horse, there is no way of getting over the dispute. It is obviously a mistake. You cannot get any settlement of that case in court. They would fire you out as long as the Gaming Act is there. Within the last fortnight I saw where a judge absolutely refused to hear a case because it appertained to gaming. We suggest that some tribunal should be set up to deal with disputes of that kind, or that they should be settled by arbitration under the Common Law Procedure Act. The provisions of that Act are brought regularly into operation because the machinery is inexpensive.
609. Senator Parkinson.—It seems to me that you are rather pleading the case of the backer against the bookmaker?— Undoubtedly.
610. I suppose you would admit that I know something from the backer’s point of view?—Undoubtedly.
611. I have never heard any claim by the backers that any tribunal should be set up to settle cash disputes between them and the bookmaker?—Possibly you as an individual have not, but I can assure you that we have a volume of correspondence in the offices of our Association setting forth grievances of people down the country and in the city of Dublin where bets were entered to the wrong horse. We cannot do anything in the matter.
612. It seems to me that all that could be settled through the local officers of the police? I take it for granted that the betting you do is on the racecourse? —We have the Conyngham Club to deal with racecourse bets. That is, you might say, a self-appointed Committee. They are appointed by the Stewards of the Turf Club to decide disputed bets. I am not agreeable with regard to having an Arbitration Court set up for the man in the street that comes in with his £1, 2s. 6d. or 1s.
613. Chairman.—You think it would be an invitation to a dispute which would be endless if you had any sort of tribunal. Would it not lead to a tremendous amount of dispute? Would it not be a temptation for a man to say that he backed one horse instead of another? Have you thought of that?—
Mr. McLoughlin.—Surely the Tribunal would be capable of finding out whether the claims were bona fide or not?
614. Chairman.—You are more conversant with the difficulties than I am. It seems to me the most trivial bets could be brought before the Tribunal and that the trouble would be endless?—The amount could be limited; but, strictly speaking, in all cases of small disputes the bookmaker pays.
That would guard against the difficulty I see.
615. Mr. Burke.—I wish to bring forwar another very important item. We want to protest as bookmakers against Section 19, sub-section (2) of the Betting Act, or Section 26 of the Finance Act with regard to the powers of entry to search for documents of Revenue Officers.
616. Chairman.—It must be the Betting Act. It is Section 19.
Mr. Burke.—Yes. We object. We think it is unfair that any officer of the Customs and Excise has the right at any time to enter any premises.
Chairman.—I would like if you did not continue that. There is a very important case sub judice.
Deputy Doyle.—Cannot an objection be sent in later?
617. Chairman.—You think the section ought to be amended.
Mr. Burke.—We think that in the new Act it should be amended: that it is very unfair.
Chairman.—Notice will be taken of what you say.
618. Mr. Burke.—We think it is unreasonable that any officer should at any time be able to enter any premises. He can go into your house or anyone else’s, according to that Act, and search from top to bottom, and demand you to open any places and show him any documents where he suspects that the business of a bookmaker is being carried on. It hits very hard in many ways. At present, if a bookmaker has not got his own horse, he is looked on by others as a person who is undesirable to stay in their house because officers can come in and search the house from top to bottom. We think there is too much scope given to the Revenue Officers.
619. Chairman.—We appreciate your objection. There is a supplementary memorandum now which we shall take up.
Mr. Burke.—Practically all the matter here will be easily gone through, because it is covered already. (Paragraph 1 read.)
Paragraph 2 read. It would be hard if a bookmaker were to challenge everyone, and say, “Are you getting Poor Relief?”
620. Chairman.—You do not object if the onus is placed on the Gárdaí?
Paragraph 3 read.
Mr. Burke.—We agree with that, hoping for a slight amendment to include a few victimised men in the business.
Paragraph 4 read.
Mr. Burke.—We had that already.
Paragraph 5 read.
621. Senator Parkinson.—Would it not be in the interests of the Turf Club to have reputable people, who at the moment are prevented from betting in the Irish ring, able to bet on reference being made to the Turf Club by the people who have the authority at the moment to issue those licences?
Mr. Burke.—It would, but I think you are conferring a power on the Stewards of the Turf Club which they are not entitled to.
622. How?—It is very hard to define what the Stewards of the Turf Club are as a body. They only control Irish racing, but then you want them to go outside their particular sphere. I wish to mention that only inside the last two months the Stewards of the Turf Club have always adopted the attitude that they would never entertain or recognise in any shape or form betting.
623. Do you not know as well as I do the reason?—I do not.
624. If they recognise betting or bookmakers they make it a place within the meaning of the Act. That was the law up to quite recently. That was why there was a legal fiction that a bookmaker had no right to occupy a particular place, put up an umbrella or anything else. That is why the Stewards declared that they took no notice of betting.
Mr. McLoughlin.—I think, judging by my experience on the racecourse, that it is contrary to what you say. The Stewards have ordered people even to move their pitches.
625. Senator Parkinson.—Mr. Burke has stated they take no cognisance of betting. The reason was that by that means they did not constitute a place within the meaning of the Act. The case was, I think, Hogg v. Kempton Park. What I am trying to make you agree to is not that the Stewards should recommend every bookmaker to bet in an Irish ring, but should have authority in specific cases to make a recommendation—that the persons concerned should be accepted by the licensing authority.
Mr. Burke.—I think to give a power of that sort to the Stewards of the Turf Club would be giving them a power to which they are not entitled. I would suggest that a prior claim to the Stewards of the Turf Club with regard to the right or privilege which you claim should be that of the recognised association of bookmakers in the country.
626. Senator Parkinson.—Do you not know that no recommendation from your Association, or any outside one, can get permission for anybody whom the Stewards do not want to bet to be allowed to bet? They have the right to get certain people in the ring now excluded.
Mr. Burke.—I would certainly suggest that a word from the Turf Club to the Revenue Commissioners, together with the Gárdaí to give Mr. McAlinden, Mr. Shaw, Mr. Cooper, etc., a licence would be a splendid idea if they could do it.
627. Senator Parkinson.—You are trying to get a clause put in for the twelve months’ residence?
Mr. Burke.—I am trying to make a slight amendment. We consider that these people have been victimised by introduction of the 1926 Act.
628. Chairman.—You will not agree with Senator Parkinson?
Mr. Burke.—I do not believe in giving the Stewards of the Turf Club that power.
Mr. McLoughlin.—They have the power to go into the police courts.
629. Senator Parkinson.—I am not agreed. If they recommend that a person should get a licence from the judiciary the judiciary have the right to refuse in the matter of the recommendation.
Mr. McLoughlin.—In the case of an applicant who would curry favour with the Turf Club, I should think that during his application in the court for a licence if these persons stated that in their opinion he was a capable man to have a licence their views would find favour with the magistrate.
630. Senator Parkinson.—It could not if the magistrates were bound by the law in the matter of twelve months.
Mr. McLoughlin.—We are trying to get over that qualification of residence.
Mr. Burke.—Our object is to get a licence, if possible, for Mr. Shaw and Mr. MacAlinden and Mr. Cooper.
631. Senator Parkinson.—I am afraid that the method you are putting forward would defeat that object.
632. Chairman.—We will now pass on to deal with the next point in your memorandum.
Mr. Burke.—In number 6 we say that the number of licences in the Saorstát should be limited. We are in agreement with this proposal, and consider it essential if the better class and more responsible type of man is to remain in the business. As regards number 7, that the Excise duty be increased to £50 for a licence and to £100 for an office, we are opposed to both these proposals. The present condition of the business does not afford any increase or expense, and this proposal would put a very large number of men out of business. Number 8: If previously licensed on proof that applicant had refused to pay bets or money resulting from bets to be a ground of objection. We are in agreement with this. It is really embodied in the Act at the moment. Number 9, that the hours of business be altered and the offices be closed from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. We are opposed to that, as it would re-create the “street” bookers and undo practically all the good that has been accomplished by the Betting Act. Number 10, that the method of betting known as “list betting” and “P.P.” be made an offence, and that paying out and settling bets should not be done on the days on which the event to which the bet relates is run. We are in agreement with this proposal, and have suggested in our memorandum what we consider would be the best means of dealing with this form of business.
Paragraphs 11 and 12 were also read.
633. Mr. McLoughlin.—In reference to paragraph No. 12, in regard to over-crowding or loitering, I should point out that at present the evidence tendered in the police courts in regard to this matter is peculiar.
634. Deputy Doyle.—Certain questions have been asked about that. That is, in regard to the definition of the word “loitering”.
Mr. McLoughlin.—The police officer says that he inspected the premises between certain times and saw so many people in the office. The magistrate generally asks what they were doing, and the police officer says that the people were hanging round, reading papers. In the great majority of cases, the magistrate refuses the appeal and disqualifies the bookmaker. The purport of the police evidence is that during the day at certain times he saw a certain number of people in the office. The bookmaker never knows the day or the hour about which the police are going to give evidence, and he cannot produce proof that at that particular time he had laid so many bets. In my own case, for instance, I could prove that during the time the police were in my office I laid about 400 bets, although the police say that there were only 30 or 40 people hanging round reading newspapers. I say that it would have been impossible for me to take that number of bets if people were only hanging around.
Chairman.—Very well; we will consider that question.
Paragraphs 12, 13 and 14 read.
635. Deputy Doyle.—Do you agree with the sixpenny bet?
Mr. Burke.—We are not in favour of it, but we do not think that it is fair to exclude people who want to have a sixpenny bet from going to the bookmaker.
636. Deputy Doyle.—Would it not encourage betting amongst the class that cannot afford it?
Mr. Burke.—That is what we are trying to stop. The majority of bookmakers have a minimum stake of half-a-crown.
Mr. Brown.—It is a question as to which system gives rise to greater abuse. If you put a minimum stake on you are in danger of unlicensed persons catering for that class of business. If there is to be a minimum it should be one shilling, but I think it would be safe to have no minimum.
Mr. McLoughlin.—I disagree with my colleagues on that. I think the matter should be made clear and that the minimum should be 1/- and 1/- each way, thereby doing away with sixpenny bets altogether. I think the majority of bookmakers would be in favour of that. One shilling win and one shilling each way will preclude sixpenny betting.
Chairman.—We will take a note of that evidence.
Paragraph 15 read.
637. Senator Parkinson.—Are we to understand that you are excluding credit betting, that this is merely cash wagers?
Mr. Burke.—No; all wagers, but particularly cash wagers.
638. Senator Parkinson.—Do you not think that that would lead to grave abuses? Is it not possible that bookmakers might tempt young fellows, such as students at the universities, professional young men, to bet if they can get unlimited credit, the bookmakers having at the back of their heads that they can force them or their parents to pay?
Mr. Burke.—We refuse to bet with people who are under eighteen.
Senator Parkinson.—The people whom I mean are over eighteen.
Mr. Burke.—Surely they have come to the use of reason.
639. Senator Parkinson.—What is the necessity for bookmakers to give credit?
Mr. Burke.—Convenience. You have it in every other business.
640. Senator Parkinson.—It is purely a misnomer to describe gambling as a business.
Mr. Burke.—This is not gambling altogether. You can compare it to the Stock Exchange.
641. Senator Parkinson.—The bookmaker can protect himself. I do not see why he wants any legal assistance to recover any debts he may make.
Mr. Burke.—I cannot agree with you there.
642. Senator Parkinson.—We know that there are unscrupulous bookmakers who will give credit to people from whom they have not a hope of getting money unless they sue them. I would be opposed to the legal recovery of bets.
Mr. McLoughlin.—Are you in favour of paying a tax on these bets—that is, credit bets made by defaulters?
643. Senator Parkinson.—I am not in favour of any tax. Perhaps you could tell us the difference between the English method of dealing with the tax and the Irish method.
Mr. Burke.—In England, betting on the race-course, you only pay 1 per cent. tax, but, strictly speaking, I am told the backer pays 1¼ per cent.
644. Senator Parkinson.—On every winning bet or on the net winnings on credit accounts?
Mr. Burke.—Net winnings.
645. Senator Parkinson.—In Ireland he pays 2½ per cent. on every win.
Mr. Burke.—One per cent. is stopped off the winnings, not off the stakes.
646. Senator Parkinson.—My experience in England is that 1 per cent. is deducted off the net winnings on a weekly account.
Mr. Burke.—I cannot speak as to that.
Mr. McLoughlin.—I do not agree. I have accounts with some of the leading bookmakers in England, and their method of collection is 1¼ per cent. on each winning bet.
Senator Parkinson.—That is not my experience.
Mr. McLoughlin.—That is the method in the Victoria Club.
647. Senator Parkinson.—That may be, but with the principal bookmakers it is 1 per cent. If a bookmaker here loses £500 on a race to an individual backer he collects 2½ per cent. off the stake and the amount he loses, but he does not pay the Government 2½ per cent. on the £500.
Mr. Burke.—He does in one way. Your point is that the bookmaker has settled the apportionment of the tax to safeguard himself against any loss I know that it has been said that the bookmaker gets a profit on the tax.
648. Senator Parkinson.—If he loses £500 and if he collects £500 over other horses he pays the tax and does not lose, but if he loses £500 he collects 2½ per cent. off the backer of Government tax.
Mr. Burke.—I spent a week last November in Manchester, and my experience there was quite different.
649. Senator Parkinson.—I am talking about Ireland. He collects the 2½ per cent. off the money he loses and does not pay it to the Government.
Mr. Burke.—That may be one way of putting it, but I do not think it is the proper way.
650. Chairman.—Do you accept Senator Parkinson’s suggestion that the bookmaker gets the tax on £500, but does not pay it to the Government?—No, I do not.
651. Senator Parkinson.—When he pays out £500 he only pays £2 10s. tax and he collects £15.
Mr. Burke.—That is speaking about an individual bet. I can produce at any time betting sheets signed by the Government people to show as regards the payment of the tax here that I pay 25.7 as a bookmaker. The more the bookmaker wins the more tax he pays out of his own pocket.
652. Senator Parkinson.—Do not take me as saying the bookmaker does not pay what he is legally bound to pay. I am merely making the suggestion that he collects a certain tax, not the tax that is due to the Government. He pays the tax that he is bound to pay, but he also collects a tax from the backer which helps the bookmaker and does not help the backer.
Mr. Burke.—I am also trying to explain the system adopted to show that the bookmaker pays on the double. The backers only pay on a winner. The man who backs a winner is recouped the taxation which the other people have not paid. For instance, if a bookmaker has any inspired knowledge about any particular horse, and does not lay that horse to any account, on any money he holds he pays all the taxes to the Government; the backer pays none.
653. Chairman.—Are there any questions on the remainder of the memorandum?
Mr. Burke.—Our answers really are there.
654. Mr. Brown.—I would like to mention with regard to the matter Senator Parkinson was discussing—the question of the legal recovery of bets and vice versa—that that was a suggestion of the Gárda Commissioner, and we are in entire agreement with it.
I would like to draw attention to another matter, that is in connection with the revision of penalties. Now that we are re-considering the Betting Act, it would be a very gracious act on the part of the Committee if, for instance, when they are furnishing their report they recommended a revision of penalties imposed on men now in prison. It is very hard that these men have to suffer such inequitable penalties.
The Committee adjourned at 1.40 p.m.