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GAMBLING HELLS.

Every now and then we hear, from some part or other of the colony, of a raid having been made upon the hotels, for breaches of some description or other of the Licensing Act The latest is from i Wellington, where the police have been successful in gaining convictions against jlicensed victuallers for allowing gambling X in their houses after midnight. In one of the cases reported, that of the To Aro Hotel, it was stated that mere lads from 18 to 20 had been permitted to stay in the house till late hours indulging in the dangerous dissipation, and the R.M. in dealing with the case, took occasion to rap the landlord smartly over the knuckles for harboring the young men, at the same time adding that as Chairman of the Licensing Commission he would use his influence to have the license cancelled. We cordially agree with’ the Resident Magistrate in his clecisjgn, and hope he will be successful in slmgSmg up a house conducted as Landlord M'Ardle’s is proved to have been. To a large portion of the community hotels are a home. There are many young men who prefer living in good hotels to making use of boardinghouses, and thousands of people whose mode of living involves almost constant travelling, have to use hotels at every halting place on their journeys. In the interests of the public generally, as well as those persons to whom we have referred, it is imperative that licensed houses should be kept respectably, and the police ought to be supported in every fair and legitimate effort to put down disreputable houses. There is no more powerful agent for the demoralisation of the people than is a badly conducted hotel. This is a fact that does not require any proof ; it is self-evi-dent, and none know it better than the police ; for, where hotels exist in which any sort of blackguardism is allowed, where drink can be procured at all hours of the day and night week day and Sunday—the police get their hands full of cases that can be traced directly to these houses as their source. So great a power for evil, then, it becomes the duty of those who regulate the granting of licenses to be prompt in their action in dealing with hells of the To Aro description, and to show no leniency whatever. To allow their existence is to put a premium on the nursing of crime, and an insult to the men who hold licenses and conduct their houses with a due regard to the law and their own self-respect. A man who conducts his hotel in such a way that no respectable person need be afraid to enter it and spend a night in it while travelling, deserves in these times the moral countenance of the community in which he lives, and in his interest action should certainly bo taken against any hotelkeeper who is so careless of his own character, the good name of his house, and the comfort of his patrons, as to permit a congregation of gamblers, young or old, to swarm in his rooms till all hours of the night. It ought to be the duty of the Commissioners to rid the community of such houses, and to be very inquisitive as to the character and antecedents of the men who apply for licenses ; but in too many instances the Commissioners are content with not always completely satisfactory evidence that there is nothing against an applicant’s character, when the * ‘ nothing ” is there only because “nothing ” has been hunted up. Any man able to raise the needful funds to start a hotel in a place where he is not known is considered quite suitable as a publican. No matter what his antecedents —they seldom come up, and care is taken by him that they will not, if they are not clean ; but a close scrutiny would cause the rejection of many in this colony who do obtain licenses. The Licensing Benches, too, we think, should be differently constituted. With many of the Commissioners no fauP whatever can be found, but the selection of gentlemen to occupy the Licensing Bench is not always happy under the nomination system, and we contend that the Commissioners ought to be the representatives of the people in this matter as much as the.members of County or

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GAMBLING HELLS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 70, 6 March 1880

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